September 21, By Tara Law
A Forests Hills resident has died and another is still recovering following an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at Parker Towers over the course of the past two months, the Health Department announced.
The individuals were living at the 104-60 Queens Boulevard complex when they contracted the disease, according to the department. The victims most likely contracted the disease by breathing in water vapor containing the legionella bacteria.
The deceased was elderly, with preexisting health conditions, according to the department. Tpically the disease is easily treatable with antibiotics and it is not contagious.
“Adults with flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention,” the department said in a statement.
Parker Towers tenants have been notified about the disease, and the department is onsite to answer questions.
The department is currently checking the building’s hot water plumbing system, where the legionella bacteria that causes the disease is typically found. The risk of infection to other tenants in the complex is “very low,” according to officials.
People over the age of 50, especially cigarette smokers, as well as people with chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems are at greatest risk.
The department released tips as to how these people can protect themselves. It suggested that they avoid taking showers and instead take baths, and fill the tub slowly while trying to stay out of the bathroom as the tub fills. When washing dishes, the sink should be filled slowly to avoid creating mist, the department said.
The department reports that between 200 and 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported on average each year.