Traces of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease have been found at an East Harlem NYPD stationhouse and one police officer was sickened with the illness, authorities said Saturday.
The first sign of the disease came after a cop working in the 23rd Precinct on E. 102nd St. was admitted to the hospital with unrelated health problems, sources said.
After running several tests on the officer, doctors uncovered the Legionella bacteria that led to the disease, according to a high-ranking police source.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association hired a private firm to run tests in the precinct stationhouse after learning of the cop’s infection. Those tests came back positive for traces of the bacteria, according to police.
A new cooling tower was installed in the building in May, but it has not been turned on yet and has been ruled out as a source of the Legionnaires’, health officials said.
The precinct’s hot water supply has been shut off as a safety measure and city health inspectors were on scene Saturday taking samples from the indoor plumbing, authorities said. The outcome of that testing, as well as an air quality check are outstanding.
“It’s an interim precaution,” said a high-ranking police source with knowledge of the case. “We are running tests, but so far no one else has gotten sick.”
The source added that another officer in the precinct worried that they also caught the disease, but it was only the flu.
Prisoners are not being held in the stationhouse cells while the city agencies finish their investigation, sources said.
The sick officer is recovering at a hospital outside of the city, according to a source.
Legionnaires’ disease killed a dozen New Yorkers and sickened another 127 during a 2015 outbreak in the South Bronx.
With Rocco Parascandola
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