Since July 10th, 46 people have acquired Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx and four people have died. According WABC, positive samples of the bacteria have been found in air conditioning at a hospital and a complex with a movie theater. Authorities are currently unsure as to whether the contaminated equipment is linked to the outbreak.
According to Mayo Clinic, Legionnaires’ disease is caused by exposure to legionella bacteria and mostly affects the lungs. Initial symptoms include headache, muscle pain chills and fever that may be 104 F or higher; these symptoms may occur two to 10 days after being exposed. 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.
The tainted rooftop cooling systems were found in Concourse Plaza on 161st Street and the outside cooling tower at Lincoln Hospital. Authorities say did not identify any clustering and say the outbreak is dispersed. The four neighborhoods in the South Bronx most affected include: High Bridge, Morrisania, Hunts Point and Mott Haven.
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.
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.”