FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM NOVEMBER 30, 2017 • THE QUEENS COURIER 37
A LOOK BACK
Our thanks to John Leonard for sharing with us his picture of the 7 train storage yard in Flushing Meadows Park from the
spring of 1983. Note the many white train cars in the yard; they had been recently painted as part of the MTA’s anti-graffi ti
program. Send us your pictures of Queens from long ago by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (subject: A Look Back) or mail printed
pictures to A Look Back, The Queens Courier, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. All mailed pictures will be carefully
returned to you.
letters & comments
What everyone should know
about Legionnaires’ disease
BY DR. MARY T. BASSETT
A few weeks ago, the Health
Department held a community
meeting in downtown
Flushing, and I had the opportunity
to hear concerns from residents
about our investigation of
a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease
We identifi ed 15 people who
had become ill. All recovered
and the investigation of the cluster has since concluded. But
people came to the meeting with many questions, including
what the city is doing to prevent the disease, whether
the bacteria is contagious, and what to do to protect themselves
and their families.
If you think you are hearing more about Legionnaires’
disease than in the past, you are correct. All across the
country, public health offi cials are seeing more cases. And
understandably, these cases are a cause of anxiety and
concern for many New Yorkers. I hope to explain what
Legionnaires’ disease is, what causes it, what to do when
there is an investigation, and steps the city is taking to avoid
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia, and symptoms
typically resemble those of a cold – fever, cough,
muscles aches and shortness of breath. Every year, the
Health Department sees between 200 and 400 cases of
Legionnaires’ disease in the fi ve boroughs. As with several
other types of pneumonia, it can be easily treated when
diagnosed early. However, when treated late, it can be
severe, and even fatal – particularly for older people and
people with underlying health conditions.
The bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease,
Legionella, is found everywhere in the environment. It
becomes a risk to human health when the bacteria grow
unchecked in artifi cial water systems – water pipes, display
fountains, Jacuzzis and whirlpools have all been sources.
In New York City, the main environmental sources of
Legionella are cooling towers and the plumbing systems of
Legionella can thrive in the cooling tower’s warm
water, and if not properly managed, the bacteria can grow
to harmful levels and be released in the mist coming out of
the tower. A person becomes infected with Legionnaires’
disease by inhaling mist or droplets with Legionella bacteria.
In a building where the hot water system is contaminated,
exposure may occur through aerosolized droplets of
warm water from showerheads.
In 2015, following a large Legionnaires’ disease outbreak
in the Bronx, the city enacted the strictest cooling
tower regulations in the nation. All building owners are
required to test their cooling towers for Legionella on a
quarterly basis and implement maintenance plans to reduce
the likelihood of outbreaks.
When there is a community cluster, where what people
share is that they live or spend substantial time in a specifi c
geographic area, we work with elected offi cials and community
leaders to explain to residents what we know, what we
are doing to learn more and what residents can do.
Our most important message for people living in an
investigation area is: seek care early.
If you are a landlord, register your cooling tower with the
Department of Buildings and follow the requirements for
keeping it clean – a well-maintained cooling tower is much
less likely to be a source of Legionella.
New York City has done more than anywhere else in the
nation to contain Legionnaires’ disease, but we need everyone’s
help to reduce the risk of this preventable and entirely
Dr. Mary Bassett is Health Commissioner for the City of
ALWAYS BETTER TO
GIVE THAN RECEIVE
Th anksgiving may have been the
kickoff for the holiday season, but
we need to pause for a moment
and think of those who have very
little to be thankful about.
Th ere are many in homeless shelters
and some living on the streets.
Each day is a struggle for many trying
to survive — including many
children who have very little to eat.
My suggestion is, to those who
can, give to those organizations
who help the many like churches,
community organizations and
faith-based groups. Th ere are also
food pantries and soup kitchens
that are in need of donations this
time of the year. But also remember
these people who are in need
are not only needy during the holidays
but all year long.
Let me also point out that I am
Grand Knight of St. Anastasia
Knights of Columbus Council
#5911 in Douglaston. My council
members have just dropped
off four large turkeys to the Little
Sisters of the poor a Queen of
Peace Residence in Queens Village.
Th is is a place for senior citizens
who have limited fi nancial means.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.,
Glen Oaks Village
Of all major holidays,
Th anksgiving Day has the least
potential for being irksome, guilty
of identity protectionism or driven
by loyalties and passions. It’s
the most inclusive of holidays. It’s
not ideology-based and harbors
no invidious implied comparisons
with other nations, faiths or ways
Th anksgiving Day is unique.
New Year’s Day is associated
with binge indulgence and noise.
It is the culmination of a season
of intensifi ed loneliness and isolation.
People who have no lover
or have lost their parents can feel
estranged from Valentine’s Day
and Mother’s and Father’s Day.
Memorial Day is a solemn day
of quiet sanctity with love and sorrow
as protagonists. Veterans Day
extols the sacrifi ce of one nation’s
soldiers, which is understandable
but nonetheless exclusionary.
Independence Day, an occasion
for justifi ed hoopla, is inherently
boastful with spectacular fi reworks
that mime battlefi eld explosions.
Labor Day is a worthy but politicized
Presidents Day equally honors
four dozen people, some monumentally
great, others half-baked
and a few quite villainous. Th ey are
honored for their job title, not for
accomplishments that all our citizens
drawn from around the globe
can relate to.
Th ere are also many “minor”
holidays, such as Groundhog Day,
but the one most exceptional is
Halloween because it is somewhat
exotic and whimsical.
But what is the most dreadful
and rueful of holidays? We can all
come together on that question:
Ron Isaac, Fresh Meadows