Legionnaires’ disease is a significant public health concern, particularly for those at risk for asthma, allergies and other respiratory-related conditions, as symptoms can lead to breathing difficulty and a serious infection such as pneumonia. Following an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in New York City last summer, in which a dozen people died and more than 100 people were sickened, the city is now considering the best path forward to strengthen prevention and treatment guidelines.

Allergy & Asthma Network believes public health officials should align their approach to preventing the spread of the Legionella bacteria, which can lead to Legionnaires’ disease, with leading government agencies and global experts. These include the World Health Organization, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In doing so, New York City would help ensure the safety of a building’s entire water distribution system, which includes the drinking water.

We believe this whole-building approach is the only effective way to properly identify and appropriately treat sources of Legionella and to effectively reduce the incidence of Legionnaires’ disease — especially for those in high-risk categories such as older adults or those living with underlying health conditions such as asthma, heart disease and cancer.