Devastating Effects of Legionnaires’ Disease: A Victim’s Family Speaks


December 2014 saw a major outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx District of New York. WIth 12 cases diagnosed to date, 8 are residents of Co-Op City, the largest cooperative housing development in the world.

Although tests are yet to be completed, there is substantial evidence that the cooling towers serving the heating and electrical systems of the 15,000 apartments of the Co-Op City development are the source of the Legionnaires’ outbreak.

Thankfully no deaths have been reported to date and hopefully none will, but this shouldn’t lead people to think that a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak is anything less than extremely serious, as the case of Ronald Hines Jr. shows.

Devastating effects

Even if Legionnaires’ disease doesn’t ultimately kill a patient, its effects are nothing less than devastating and can last for an extended period of time, even for life.

Ronald Hines Jr, one of those infected in the Bronx outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was until the outbreak a fit and healthy young man, a keen runner and someone who liked to keep fit. But once diagnosed on December 4 2014, his temperature rose rapidly from 99 to 103.6 oF in just 12 hours, and he began having problems breathing which meant doctors had to consider whether to insert a breathing tube into his trachea. However, this isn’t the full extent of what Legionnaires’ disease can do. Ronald Hines Sr described the further effects the disease had on his son…

“All the muscles in his body shut down, his heart, lungs obviously, kidneys.”

Ronald Hines Jr remains in hospital and is undergoing treatment and physical therapy. He is now able to walk short distances and do very basic exercises, but it’s a long way from what he was able to do before.

Speaking about the future, his father Ronald Hines Sr said…

“Before I pursue legal [recourse] and going down that road, I want to get my son back.”

Co-Op City cooling towers

If investigations do conclude that the Co-Op City cooling towers are indeed to blame for the outbreak, it once again highlights the need for organisations that use cooling towers to conduct a comprehensive legionella hazard analysis (risk assessment), and then put into place appropriate measures to control the risks involved.

You can read more about cooling towers and legionella risk in our blog entitled ‘Cooling Towers, Legionella Management & The Portugal Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak’.

How Legionella Control International can help?

To find out how to safeguard your facilities and ensure compliance with the law please contact us on 0161 877 0586 (Manchester) or 0203 637 47 48 (London).

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