Latest Legionnaires’ Outbreak in the Bronx Kills 1 and Sickens 18

A growing cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases in the Bronx has resulted in the death of one person and illness in 18 others, eight of whom are currently hospitalised, the New York City Health Department said Wednesday.

The cases appear to be linked to four water cooling towers on top of buildings in the Highbridge neighbourhood of the Bronx, where officials said they found Legionella pneumophila, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

“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,” said the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, in a statement. “That’s why it’s crucial that you seek health care as soon as you experience flulike symptoms.”

Outbreaks of the disease happen with some regularity in New York City, where aging water cooling tanks on top of buildings can become reservoirs for the bacteria. The disease is treatable by antibiotics if caught early enough.

The last known death in a cluster of cases was in 2018, and was linked to an outbreak of 18 cases in Upper Manhattan.

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