18 Sickened From Harlem Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak, City Says

Well over a dozen people have now been sickened and hospitalised from Legionnaires’ disease in Harlem, as the city searches for its origin.

A water cooling tower in the Bronx that was found to have traces of legionella during a 2015 outbreak. The city recently finished inspecting and disinfecting cooling towers in Harlem amid a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak here. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that emerged in Harlem last month has now sickened at least 18 people, according to the city, which is still working to identify its source.

The city first revealed on Aug. 19 that a dozen cases had been confirmed in the neighbourhood, including several involving residents over the age of 50. By Wednesday, that total had risen to 18 people in ZIP codes 10030, 10037 and 10039 — all of whom had to be hospitalised, a Health Department spokesperson told Patch.

Sixteen of those people have been released from the hospital, while two are still there, the spokesperson said.

Legionnaires’ disease is a kind of pneumonia caused by bacteria that live in warm water. It is contracted by breathing in contaminated water vapour, and causes flu-like symptoms and complications that can be fatal — especially for people over 50, smokers and those with underlying health conditions. (Two outbreaks in the Bronx in 2015 killed 16 people and sickened over 100 others.)

After inspecting and disinfecting all cooling towers in the affected ZIP codes, the city has not yet pinpointed a source, according to the Health Department, although investigations and tests continue.

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