More than 90 gallons of water are wasted each day in approximately 10% of homes due to leaky faucets and poorly installed shower heads. While that may rack up a significant water bill, did you know that water can also wreak havoc on your bill of health?

Legionnaire’s Disease, which has been reported in a Harlem public housing development, is a type of respiratory infection that is transmitted mostly through water systems.

Legionella pneumophila is the bacterium that causes Legionnaire’s, and can be found in both potable and non potable water systems. Common symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease include fever, chills, and cough, but in more sever cases, pneumonia can develop, as well as respiratory failure. It is not a contagious disease, and cannot be transmitted by person. It is often contracted by breathing in water vapor.

Last year, 16 people died after becoming in contact with legionella in the Bronx, and there is currently one positive case of the disease being treated in New York City at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan.

New York Health Officials are currently conducting an in-depth investigation of the Rangel Houses in Harlem, to determine if Legionnaire’s disease is present in the water system. An ionization system has been installed in the plumbing system to combat any traces of bacteria.

The following statement was released by the Department of Health:

“The health department is currently investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at NYCHA’s Rangel Houses. While the risk of infection to residents is very low, as part of routine protocol to assess potential sources of Legionella, the Department is working with NYCHA to test the building’s water supply. Legionella bacteria typically are found in water systems, including indoor plumbing. As a precaution to eliminate potential Legionella from the plumbing system, NYCHA is installing a copper-silver ionization system.”

Surrounding residents want to have their plumbing cleaned and inspected as well, as the area water systems are connected.

Residents have been advised to take baths, not showers, to reduce the amount of water vapor in the air, as well as fill kitchen sinks slowly to wash dishes, and to heat cold water on the stove for coffee and tea.