NYC Legionnaire’s Disease Outbreak

A Legionnaire’s disease outbreak in the South Bronx has been linked to the death of ten people and sickened approximately 100 others.

Legionnaire’s disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the naturally occurring bacteria Legionella. The bacteria is usually found in warm water.  Legionnaire’s disease is contracted when water vapor or mist containing the bacteria is breathed in, but is not spread from person to person. Exposure to the bacteria does not mean you will become ill.

Symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease include headache, cough, shortness of breath, high fever and muscle aches. Treatment requires antibiotics and often hospitalization. Those most at risk for contracting Legionnaire’s disease are older persons, smokers or former smokers, and people with compromised lung function or immune systems. The disease typically has an incubation period of up to 10 days so symptoms may not appear until days after infection.

Legionnaire’s disease can be prevented by maintaining any water systems – cooling towers, hot tubs, fountains and even drinking water systems – with disinfectant and regulation of pH levels.

In response to this latest outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council plan to introduce legislation to identify buildings with cooling towers in order to assess how many towers in the city may be affected.

Efforts to identify and disinfect the sources of the outbreak are underway.

More information about Legionnaire’s disease can be found at the CDC’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/legionella/about/

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