Legionnaires' disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, is a health concern in different parts of the globe. Two of the most recent cases of the disease for 2016, for example, took place in the neighbourhood of Harlem in Manhattan, New York. 

According to the New York City Department of Health, they receive 200 to 400 reports of the waterborne disease on average each year. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already logged in 110 reported cases. 

An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease took place in the South Bronx just in the previous summer; as a result, 12 people died and more than 120 other individuals were sickened.

The latest two cases arose from a West Harlem apartment complex. Health department officials are still performing assessments of the potential sources of the Legionella bacteria.

Legionnaires' disease is contracted when a person inhales water droplets that contain Legionella bacteria, so areas where the disease emerges must have their water supply systems examined for the presence of Legionella. In the case of the South Bronx outbreak, for instance, the bacteria were traced to 15 cooling towers. 

While the West Harlem apartment building does not have cooling towers, its management company has announced that an environmental company has been hired to sanitise the building's water towers. Legionnaires' testing must be done to identify where the Legionella bacteria are flourishing so that they can be properly eliminated.

All residents of the apartment complex have been met by the health department officials so that concerns can be addressed. In addition, the officials shared valuable precautionary measures that could help the residents protect themselves from the possibility of contracting Legionnaires' disease. These precautions are especially crucial for individuals with compromised immune systems since they are at higher risk of becoming infected by the bacteria.

Here are examples of these critical precautionary measures: 

  • Wearing a mask to prevent inhalation of water droplets is not necessary, but regularly (and carefully) washing your hands is a must.
  • Drinking cold water from the tap is not prohibited, but make sure to start with cold water when you need to heat some for coffee or tea, or for cooking.
  • Do not take showers (even cold ones) for the time being to avoid creating mist. Fill the tub with water instead, but do so slowly. Also, avoid spending prolonged periods of time inside the bathroom while the bathtub is being filled.
  • When washing dishes, fill the sink slowly.