In case you’ve missed it, NYC recently had its largest Legionnaires’ outbreak in its history. It was a bit scary, especially due to conflicting reports regarding its source, but the outbreak is officially over. The outbreak, which was first reported on July 12th, killed 12 New Yorkers and sickened more than 120 others. And now we also know where it all started.
The NYC Health Department has announced that the source was the Opera House Hotel at 436 East 149th Street in the Bronx.
By conducting various tests with the help of the CDC and Wadsworth Center, the Health Department matched the DNA fingerprints of the Legionella strains in the Opera House Hotel’s cooling tower to that found in patients.
These particular cooling towers were among five Legionnaires’ hot spots that Mayor de Blasio officially identified on August 5th (Lincoln Medical Center, Concourse Plaza, a Verizon building and Streamline Plastic Co. were the others).
Glenn Isaacs, VP of the Empire Hotel Group which owns the Opera House had lashed out at the mayor on August 10th, when an anonymous Health Department official told the NYTimes that, even though test results were still out, “the investigation so far pointed to the hotel” as the outbreak’s source.
“It’s outrageous that these officials would offer little more than speculation to the Times, while admitting in the same article that the information could be wrong,” Isaacs said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned that there has been a rush to judgment as part of some game of one-upmanship between City and State officials. We made it clear to the DOH we viewed these statements as completely inappropriate, even reckless,” he added.
The Opera House Hotel has since issued a statement, stating that since the mandated cleaning, the cooling towers have tested negative for Legionnaires’ bacteria.