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Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak: 2 Dead in NYC as Officials Seek Cause

Image: Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak: 2 Dead in NYC as Officials Seek Cause
A technician holds a culture dish with colonies of legionella in a laboratory at the Water and Environment Department at the Institut Pasteur in Lille, January 5, 2004. (Pascal Rossignol/REUTERS)

By    |   Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 05:13 PM

A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York City has killed two people and sickened 31 since July 10 as officials continue to try to identify and track its cause.

Most of the reported cases of the disease have originated from the South Bronx neighborhoods of Highbridge, Morrisania, Hunts Point, and Mott Haven, according to The Wall Street Journal. The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is currently investigating cooling towers and testing water sources, such as humidifiers and large air-conditioning systems, to find the source of the disease.

“We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases in the South Bronx,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement. “We are conducting a swift investigation to determine the source of the outbreak and prevent future cases. I urge anyone with symptoms to seek medical attention right away.”

This month’s outbreak is double the number of cases recorded in South Bronx’s last outbreak in 2014, when 12 people became ill in December. The cause of that outbreak was traced to contamination in cooling towers at Co-op City, which is the world’s largest cooperative housing development.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused when a person is exposed to the bacteria Legionella through inhaling contaminated aerosols from cooling towers, hot tubs, showers, faucets, or other sources of drinking water. The disease cannot be spread from person to person.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include pneumonia-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, chills, confusion, and fatigue. The people who are most prone to catching the disease are those with lung diseases, older people, smokers, and those with already compromised immune systems. Legionnaires’ disease is common and is easily treatable if caught early enough.

In April and May of this year, 12 people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at a New York City Housing Authority building in Queens.

“Thank God this is a disease that can be treated, and the important thing is early detection,” said de Blasio at a news conference on Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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A Legionnaires' disease outbreak in New York City has killed two people and sickened 31 since July 10 as officials continue to try to identify and track its cause.
legionnaires disease, outbreak, nyc
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2015-13-29
Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 05:13 PM
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