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Inmate At Rikers Island Diagnosed With Legionnaires' Disease

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Rikers Island inmate was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease this week, but the case is not believed to be related to the South Bronx epidemic.

On Monday, a 63-year-old inmate at the Anna M. Kross Center at the jail complex was diagnosed with Legionnaires', according to the New York City Department of Corrections.

The patient was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center and was treated with antibiotics, the department said, adding that the patient had underlying medical conditions.

Out of an abundance of caution, all six cooling towers at Rikers Island were chemically disinfected, even though they had been disinfected just last month, the DOC said. The DOC has also cleaned all showerheads.

Inmate At Rikers Island Diagnosed With Legionnaires' Disease

The DOC has consulted with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about the Legionnaires' case.

The Correction Officers' Benevolent Association had also reported that the legionella bacterium had also been found in the water tower of the Brooklyn House of Detention, but the union later said this turned out not to be true.

Still, the union complained that the Health Department has not been sharing information effectively with the Department of Corrections.

"(F)or obvious reasons, the presence of Legionnaires' disease in a correctional facility is a ticking time-bomb," union president Norman Seabrook said in a news release. "We are calling on the Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett to step up and immediately test every facility under the control of the Department of Correction and to better share information with the DOC. The health and well-being of thousands of correction officers and inmates is at risk."

The South Bronx Legionnaires' epidemic has infected 113 people and left 12 dead.

Scientists are zeroing in on the location that started the outbreak, believed to be one of five cooling towers in the South Bronx. Cooling towers in 18 buildings there have tested positive for the legionella bacteria, officials said.

As 1010 WINS Derricke Dennis reported, there were groans on Tuesday, when a public health official declared the South Bronx the safest section of the city now that cooling towers have been tested and scrubbed.

Three cases of Legionnaires' have also been diagnosed in Rockland County since July 1.

New York City lawmakers will soon start debating a bill requiring all cooling towers to be registered and routinely tested after the outbreak.


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