Ed Day, Rockland County Executive
August 10, 2015
Contact: Scott Salotto (845) 638-5645
Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, DO, FAAFP (845) 364-2512
UPDATE FROM HEALTH DEPARTMENT ON LEGIONNAIRES' DISEASE IN ROCKLAND COUNTY
NEW CITY, NY - - County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert are looking to educate residents about Legionnaires' Disease following this summer's outbreak in New York City and several recent cases in Rockland.
"Legionnaires' disease (or Legionellosis) is a type of pneumonia. It is not contagious and is not spread from person to person. People only get sick by breathing in water vapor containing bacteria (for example by inhaling contaminated mist from faucets, showers, whirlpools or cooling towers). People who are sick with Legionella cannot make others sick. The Health Department is closely monitoring the situation here in Rockland and is in contact with state health officials as well", said Dr. Ruppert.
As part of the Health Department's efforts to outreach to the community, letters have been sent to local providers and businesses. Correspondence to physicians include information on symptoms, testing and treatment. Letters to the business owners include information on inspection and maintenance of hot and cold water systems, which include cooling towers.
Most healthy individuals do not become infected with Legionella bacteria after exposure. People at higher risk of getting sick are those 50 years of age or older, current or former smokers, those with a chronic lung disease (like COPD or emphysema), those with a weak immune system from diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure, and people who take drugs that suppress (weaken) the immune system (like after a transplant operation or chemotherapy).
Legionnaires' disease can present as a flu-like illness and then have symptoms similar to pneumonia (a lung infection). Signs of Legionnaires' disease can include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches, and headaches. These symptoms usually begin 2 to 10 days after being exposed to the bacteria. If you feel ill and have a reason to suspect Legionnaires' (such as exposure to known areas of concern), please consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you have a medical condition that affects your breathing, like emphysema, or if you are a smoker. Legionnaires' disease requires treatment with antibiotics and most cases of Legionnaires' disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics. Those individuals who have traveled to an area of concern are advised to monitor their symptoms.
For additional information about Legionnaires' disease visit the New York State Department of Health website at: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/legionellosis/