The 2015 New York City Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak: A Case Study on a History-Making Outbreak

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On July 17, 2015, the Bureau of Communicable Disease of the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) detected an abnormal number and distribution of Legionnaires' disease (LD) cases in the South Bronx.1–3 This cluster of cases would eventually grow into the largest outbreak of LD in NYC history. The NYC DOHMH led the outbreak response, part of which included sampling numerous cooling towers within NYC for Legionella pneumophila bacteria. In the aftermath of the outbreak, NYC became the first large jurisdiction in the United States to take a regulatory approach to the management of cooling towers to prevent Legionella contamination.4 Public health departments of all sizes can learn from how the DOHMH responded to this historic outbreak.
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