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Fordham University Statement | Legionnaire’s Disease

Typical Cooling Tower (Not Fordham Property)

Typical Cooling Tower (Not Fordham Property)

August 14, 2015 | Fordham University has been closely monitoring the recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx, which has been attributed to bacteria found in cooling towers. Cooling towers are water tanks that are part of a buildings’ central air-conditioning systems (in New York City they are mostly located on rooftops).

There have been no reported cases of Legionnaire’s Disease among members of the University community to date. Fordham has taken extra precautions and continues to follow all recommendations and regulations of New York City and state agencies regarding this outbreak.

University Precautions

  • Fordham has had long-term contracts with licensed water treatment companies for periodic applications of biocides, and water quality monitoring in all our cooling towers,
  • The cooling towers were all “shocked” with additional biocide when we were informed of Legionella-related health issues in the Bronx,
  • An outside certified contractor has inspected all our towers to insure they are operating per manufacturer’s design,
    Fordham is cleaning and sanitizing all of its cooling towers, a process that will be completed no later than August 21, 2015,
  • Once the cooling towers have been sanitized, periodic testing will continue to ensure our towers comply with New York City health regulations,
  • In addition, our Facilities Department has contracted with an Industrial Hygienist to review all our current maintenance practices and processes, to insure they meet the evolving government and industry standards.


About Legionnaire’s Disease
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. The Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. The disease presents symptoms like many other forms of pneumonia, including:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • High fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches

Symptoms usually begin 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the bacteria. As a rule, the very young, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable than healthy adults. Complete information on Legionnaires’ Disease can be found at the Federal Centers for Disease Prevention and Control website:

Fordham students who have concerns about Legionnaires’ disease should call the University Health Center office at: (718) 817-4160, or after business hours, the Office of Public Safety at (718) 817-2222, and ask to speak with the duty supervisor. Faculty, staff, and guests of the University should contact their private physicians.


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