Interview Highlights

– Legionnaires’ disease was unknown before 1976; in 1976 the first recognized cases of the disease occurred in Philadelphia at a Legionnaires’ convention at a hotel where 221 attendees contracted the disease and 34 of them died.

– Leginnaires’ disease lives in water including plumbing systems, cooling towers and air conditioning systems. It is transmitted by inhalation of water droplets contaminated with the Legionella bacteria.

– To prevent the disease we have to make sure “building water systems are properly inspected and kept clean…no city has made this requirement” so the pending NYC legislation is a positive step. 

About Stephen S. Morse

Stephen S. Morse, Ph.D. is Director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness at Columbia University. Professional interests include epidemiology of emerging infections (a concept he originated), international cooperation for infectious disease surveillance, and defense against bioterrorism. Dr. Morse recently returned to Columbia from 4 years in government service as Program Manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Defense, where he co-directed the Pathogen Countermeasures program and subsequently directed the Advanced Diagnostics program. His book Emerging Viruses was selected by “American Scientist” for its list of “100 Top Science Books of the 20th Century.”

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