The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 12 people in the Bronx – and sickened a Rockland resident who works at Chromalloy in Orangeburg – has renewed concerns about the pneumonia-like illness, first discovered in 1976 in Philadelphia.
Late last week, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the health department will provide free Legionella testing for buildings statewide that have cooling towers or evaporative condenser units. The Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease, also known as legionellosis. It is usually treated successfully with antibiotics.
In one of the earliest outbreaks of the illness, in 1978, Westchester neurosurgeon Dr. Ezriel Kornel — working as an intern at a Washington, D.C. hospital — suspected a young patient with symptoms of severe pneumonia actually had Legionnaires’ disease. Kornel immediately put the patient on a course of antibiotics. “He was the first person in Washington to survive Legionnaires’,” he said.