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Bronx Sees Outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease

Aug 3, 2015

An outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in the Bronx has sickened 46 people since July 10th and left four people dead. WABC reports that investigators found samples of the bacteria in air conditioning at a hospital and a complex with a movie theater. Authorities are uncertain as to whether the tainted equipment is to blame for the outbreak.

The positive samples were found on two rooftop cooling systems in Concourse Plaza on 161st Street and the outside cooling tower at Lincoln Hospital. Authorities say the outbreak is dispersed and did not identify any clustering. Four neighborhoods in the South Bronx appear to be most affected: High Bridge, Morrisania, Hunts Point and Mott Haven. The New York City Health Department called the outbreak "unusual", according to WABC, and is trying to pinpoint the source of the outbreak. "In terms of Lincoln Hospital, it does not come through the water," Mayor Bill de Blasio said, according to WABC. "It can only come through the air that is dispersed out of the cooling towers, the mist that is dispersed out of them. So we know we have a localized problem."

City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said "No employees, no patients in the hospital have acquired Legionnaires' there," WABC reports. "They have acquired it in the neighborhood and we don't fully understand how." Health officials will be testing 20 cooling towers in the Bronx.

According to Mayo Clinic, Legionnaires' disease is caused by exposure to legionella bacteria and mostly affects the lungs. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after being exposed and begin with headache, muscle pain chills and fever that may be 104 F or higher. Coughing (may bring up mucus and blood), shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) and confusion may occur by the second or third day.

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