Officials with the New York City Department of Health said Sunday that a NYPD officer in Harlem’s 23rd Precinct was recovering at a hospital outside the city after contracting Legionnaires’ disease.
On Saturday night, the NYPD said it had temporarily shut down the precinct’s hot water supply until more testing can be done. Officials with the city’s health and maintenance departments were dispatched to the precinct to conduct further testing, according to an NYPD statement released Saturday night.
Initial tests were completed by an independent contractor hired by a NYPD police union, officials said, and the results center on the building’s health and ventilation systems.
In a statement Sunday, the health department said it was looking at those results and continuing its investigation at the precinct.
“Health officials are on site today to sample water in indoor plumbing, and to provide additional assistance and guidance,” the statement said. “Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious, officers can still work in the building but should avoid taking showers at the site until the investigation is complete. There is no public health risk to the larger community.”
Legionnaires’ disease causes a form of pneumonia that is contracted through exposure to aerosols and mists from contaminated water. The bacteria are found naturally in the environment and most often are associated with air conditioning and water systems.
Officials ruled out a cooling tower that was recently installed in the precinct, but not yet in operation, as the source of the bacteria.
A 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx caused at least a dozen deaths and sickened more than 100 people.
In response, the health department said it implemented new regulations for cooling towers, hired more inspectors and trained city workers about how to inspect towers.
An average of 200 to 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported annually in the city, the health department statement said.