Legionnaires’ disease linked to Garden City Park gym

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Legionnaires’ disease linked to Garden City Park gym
This LA Fitness club in Garden City Park closed its pool Dec. 30 after legionella bacteria was found there. (Photo from LAFitness.com)

A Garden City Park gym is working to clean the swimming pool where county health officials found the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease last month.

The pool and spa area at LA Fitness at 2350 Jericho Turnpike closed Dec. 30 after two samples taken from the pool tested positive for legionella bacteria, Jill Greuling, a spokeswoman for Fitness International, the parent company of LA Fitness, said in a statement.

The Nassau County Department of Health tested the pool after receiving at least one report of a person being diagnosed with the disease,

Mary Ellen Laurain, a health department spokeswoman, said. She declined to say how many cases have been diagnosed because the investigation is ongoing.

The pool has been drained and Fitness International has hired Nalco Water, a national water treatment and management firm, to address the bacteria problem, Greuling said.

“Once the area is remediated, we will coordinate with the Department of Health to schedule clearance testing and will re-open the area only when it is declared safe,” Greuling said, adding that there is no estimated time when the pool and spa will reopen.

Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, the county health commissioner, ordered the gym to close the pool and spa. The gym itself and other facilities there remain open.

The Health Department also required the gym to notify all customers who used the pool between Nov. 1 and Dec. 30, Laurain said.

The Garden City Park gym’s members can use any other LA Fitness location in New York until the pool reopens, Greuling said.

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia that produces symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, high fever, headaches and muscle pains, which usually appear  two to 10 days after exposure to legionella bacteria.

The disease is usually contracted from mists or vapors because the bacteria are naturally found in water; it cannot be spread from person to person.

Legionnaires’ disease is among several conditions that must be reported to the county Health Department if diagnosed. Others include salmonella, tuberculosis, e.coli and meningitis, Laurain said.

The bacteria thrive in warm water and can grow in hot tobs, hot water tanks, plumbing systems, cooling towers on buildings and fountains if they are not maintained properly, according to the state Department of Health.

Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are relatively rare, the state Health Department’s website says.

Nassau County saw 56 cases in 2016, Laurain said. Between 200 and 800 are typically reported across the state each year, according to the state Health Department’s website.

An outbreak in New York City stemming from a Bronx hotel’s cooling tower sickened 124 people and killed 12 of them in the summer of 2015.

Legionella bacteria were found in two Smithtown high schools in October 2015, but no one was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in connection with the bacteria, according to news reports.

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