Health officials in New York are investigating an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx, which they say have sickened 31 people since July 10. There have also been two deaths reported in patients with Legionnaires’ disease in these neighborhoods, but officials are still investigating whether Legionnaires’ was the cause of death.
According to a press release from the New York’s Department of Health, officials are testing water from cooling towers and other potential sources in the area to determine the source of the outbreak.
In the release, officials urged New Yorkers with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches, are advised to promptly seek medical attention.
“We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases in the South Bronx,” Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in the release. “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.”
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella.
Additional symptoms include: headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria.
Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, cooling towers, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.
Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person.
Groups at high risk for Legionnaire’s disease include people who are middle-aged or older – especially cigarette smokers – people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs). Those with symptoms should call their doctor and ask about testing for Legionnaire’s disease.
For more information about Legionnaires’ disease, please visit the New York Health Department’s website.