The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has updated the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in the South Bronx. As of August 15, 2015, 124 people are sick, and 12 people have died. Ninety-four people have been hospitalized, treated, and released.
No new cases have been reported with symptoms onset date after August 3, 2015. Officials believe that one or more of the five locations that tested positive was the source of the outbreak. All of those locations have been disinfected, and they believe the outbreak has been contained because of those actions.
Legionnaires’ bacteria thrives in water that sits for long periods of time. Cooling towers are the problem in this outbreak. They emit a mist that, if contaminated with bacteria and inhaled, cause the disease.
Public officials are continuing to monitor for new cases, are working in collaboration with area hospitals, and are interviewing all of those sickened to try to pinpoint the source of the outbreak. They are also conducting outreach to vulnerable populations, especially those living in senior centers and the homeless.
A Commissioner’s Order has been put into effect. That means that all building owners whose facilities have cooling towers must follow the orders. The owner must disinfect all cooling towers with 14 days of receiving the order. Records of the buildings and disinfections must also be kept.
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease, which is a type of pneumonia, include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Those most susceptible to this illness are people older than 60, current or former smokers, those with chronic lung illnesses, and people with a weakened immune system. About 5 to 30% of these patients die.
If you have experienced these symptoms and live in the South Bronx, please see a doctor as soon as possible. The illness is treated with antibiotics.