Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in The Bronx
According to the Department of Health, the Bronx is experiencing a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. 24 cases of the disease were detected in the Highbridge neighborhood and surrounding areas in the borough.
The outbreak has caused the deaths of two people and hospitalized four others. The two victims of the disease were both over the age of 50, with underlying conditions worsened by the disease.
“We are saddened to hear about a death [of a] person who contracted Legionnaires’,” Dr. Ashwin Vasan, NYC Health Commissioner, said in a statement following the news of the first death. “Health Department staff are working to ensure that buildings in the cluster area are treated and conditions remediated quickly.
While most people exposed to the bacteria do not get sick, Legionnaires’ disease can cause severe illness or be fatal for those at higher risk, including people with pre-existing chronic health issues.”
“That’s why it’s crucial that you seek health care as soon as you experience flu-like symptoms,” Vasan added.
Legionella pneumophila is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria, which grows in warm water, causes the kind of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’. The disease is caught by inhaling vapor containing the bacteria. Symptoms of Legionnaires include fever, chills, cough, and muscle aches.
The disease is treatable by administering antibiotics in the early stages. It can be fatal, especially to those considered high risk. Legionnaire’s is not contagious, so it cannot be spread between people or travel through the population.
More Insights on Bronx City Legionnaires’ disease outbreak
The contamination of four cooling towers caused the outbreak of Legionnaires in the Bronx. The legionella pneumophila bacteria was detected in the towers but officials confirmed that they had been disinfected. The bacteria are typically found in warm water areas such as hot tubs, whirlpool spas, and humidifiers.
The bacteria thrive in these locations. Health officials have warned citizens that in the event they experience the above-mentioned or flu-like symptoms, they should consult a health professional. People with underlying medical conditions, chronic lung disease, and smokers need to be cautious as they are most at risk.
Legionnaire’s disease is not a new disease afflicting New York. There was an outbreak of the disease in 2015 which infected 138 people and resulted in the deaths of 16. The outbreak led to the city passing regulations in 2016 that forced building owners to register, test, and maintain their cooling towers.
The Legionella bacteria and others thrive in warm environments, so this led to the additional requirement of 2019 for building owners to disinfect their cooling towers in the summer. According to reports, a large number of building owners have not followed these regulations. A report for 2020 indicated that there were over 2,115 violations in 3,326 towers. New York City reports between 200-500 cases of Legionnaires’ disease a year.