Oct. 4, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Legionella bacteria has been found at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence in Long Island City, officials revealed.
Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease were identified within the last year at the facility, located at 21-10 Borden Ave., with a test confirming that the bacteria was found in the center’s water system, the Department of Health said. The two infected patients, however, have since recovered.
“There are no new cases of Legionnaires’ disease, and the risk to clients remains very low,” the DOH said in a statement. “Following our protocol, we have notified tenants and are working with DSS on short and long-term remediation plans.”
The Department of Homeless Services did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
It is unclear when the test to the water system, while recent, was done, and whether the two that fell ill were residents or staff at the shelter. It is also unclear when exactly they became ill.
The DOH advised residents in an Oct. 2 letter that the risk of getting sick from the building’s water system is very low, especially for people in good health.
Residents are still able to use and drink water, but those at higher risk of getting Legionnaires’ disease—like people aged 50 and older, people with chronic lung disease, and those with compromised immune systems—are advised to take additional precautions like using modified showers provided by building management, and starting with cold water when heating water for drinks or cooking.
The disease, a type of pneumonia, is not contagious, but spreads by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria. An average of 200 to 500 Legionnaires’ disease cases are reported in the city every year.
Jaclyn Rothenberg, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said on Twitter that the city has the most aggressive Legionnaires’ prevention and response system in the country.
“The Health Dept. & Department of Homeless Services are cleaning the water systems in this building. We’ve notified residents & will take any measure necessary to keep them safe & healthy,” she said.
The residence, which opened in 1987 and briefly closed in 2007 for renovations, has 243 beds and acts as a short term housing facility for male and female veterans.