LOCKPORT, N.Y. - A cooling tower at Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport tested positive for high levels of Legionella (exceeding 1,000 CFU/mL) according to the Niagara County Department of Health.
New York State Department of Health is working with Niagara County DOH on an investigation of a cluster of 8 cases of Legionellosis in the community. Other cooling towers in the are being tested.
“We take this issue seriously and promise to continue investigating these infections," said Daniel J. Stapleton, Niagara County Public Health Director. "The health of the community is our priority.”
In a news release issued on Tuesday, Niagara County DOH provided the following additional information:
• Under new 2016 state regulations adopted this past summer, owners of cooling towers are required to notify State DOH and the local DOH of any sample that tests positive at this level. This sample was collected by the hospital as part of routine cooling tower monitoring for Legionella.
• The hospital immediately took steps to disinfect the cooling tower. As required by the new state regulations the hospital will conduct additional testing to confirm the remediation was successful. Niagara County and NYSDOH continue to work closely with the leadership of Eastern Niagara Hospital to monitor the situation.
• Legionella is typically transmitted by breathing in aerosolized water contaminated with the bacteria, not by drinking the water. Public water systems are not commonly found to be sources of Legionella outbreaks.
• Most healthy individuals do not become infected with Legionella bacteria when exposed. People at higher risk of getting sick are those with a history of chronic disease, smoking, chronic lung disease, cancer or weakened immune systems.