NYC Legionnaires’ disease outbreak: Second death reported

New York City health officials report that two people have died and least 24 have been infected with Legionnaires’ disease in the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella that are found usually in water. 

People catch the disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor containing the bacteria; the bacteria are not spread from person to person.

In addition, people cannot get Legionnaires’ disease by drinking water that has Legionella bacteria. 

“It is fine to drink cold water from the tap. When heating water for tea, coffee or cooking, start with cold water,” the city notes.

The city’s health department said the community cluster – which was first tracked at the beginning of last month – was located in ZIP codes 10452 and 10456 and bordering communities. 

“Two people have died, and 4 people are currently hospitalized. The two individuals who passed were over the age of 50 and had risk factors for severe disease. The remediation ordered by the Department for the four cooling towers that tested positive for the presence of Legionella pneumophila, a type of bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, was completed last week,” it said.

Any New Yorker with flu-like symptoms, cough, fever or difficulty breathing should contact a physician immediately. 

Additional symptoms include headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion or diarrhea.

Legionnaires’ disease causes flu-like symptoms, and complications from the disease can be fatal.

People who are smokers or have a medical condition that affects breathing are especially at risk, as well as those who are 50 years or older and people who have a weakened immune system or take medicines that weaken their immune system.

While Legionnaires’ disease can be treated with antibiotics when caught early, there is no vaccine or medicine that can prevent it.

The best way to stop Legionnaires’ disease is through proper maintenance of water system where the bacteria may grow. 

New York City has had Legionnaires’ outbreaks before, notably in 2015 when 12 people died.

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