LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Two of the 8 patients recently found to have Legionnaires’ disease in Niagara County have died.
Recently, a cooling tower at Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport tested positive for high levels of Legionella. The levels exceeded 1,000 colony-forming units of bacteria per milliliter (1,000 CFU/mL).
The tower found to have bacteria on it was immediately disinfected.
Because of the findings on that cooling tower, other towers and possible sources besides the hospital are being tested.
“We take this issue seriously and promise to continue investigating these infections. The health of the community is our priority,” Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton said.
Legionella can be spread through breathing in “aerosolized” water, as Stapleton put it, that contains the water, not by drinking it. Those in good health do not normally get infected with the bacteria when exposed.
People at a higher risk of contracting the illness are those with chronic disease, chronic lung disease, weak immune systems, or smokers.
In both 2014 and 2015, Erie County had 63 cases of Legionellosis and Niagara County had 12. So far in 2016, 42 cases have been reported in Erie County, and 16 have been reported in Niagara County.
Health officials say the two patients who died suffered underlying health conditions.