Jan 24, 2018

New York State Faces Record Year for Legionnaires' Disease

More than 1,000 outbreaks were reported in 2017, a 38% increase from 2016

Legionella increase in New York state

2017 was a record year for Legionnaires’ disease across New York state with 1,009 cases reported to the CDC—a 38% increase from 2016. Among these reported cases, a troubling 441 cases—a 65% increase from 2016—were reported in New York City, according to a press release by the Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease (APLD). 

The APLD said that New York state has a higher rate of the disease than any other state in the  country per capita and points to the public water distribution system as the problem. The group argues that disease prevention is more focused on building equipment and does not address the source problem of Legionella entering buildings through the public water distribution system.

“Building equipment uses the same water source that supplies our showerheads and faucets. Without addressing the bacteria entering our buildings from the public distribution system, the issues we face with Legionella are not going to end,” said John Letson, Vice President of Plant Operations at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Additionally, the APLD asserts that New York state fails to properly address sporadic cases of the disease and remains focused on outbreaks

“Our public policies are being driven by outbreaks which generate news and political pressure,” said APLD Spokesperson Daryn Cline. “During one week alone, there were 27 new cases in New York City, which went largely unnoticed. Worse yet, they were not fully investigated to understand the sudden spike or how to prevent similar spikes in the future.”