“The Health Department is now investigating a cluster of seven Legionnaires’ disease cases in the Morris Park section of the Bronx”, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced on Monday. The Health Department says seven people have been sickened since last week, but no new fatalities have been reported.
The borough president’s office says three of the seven patients live in the area.
The summer outbreak, which had 12 casualties and over 100 infections, was the largest in history. It was ultimately traced to Legionella bacteria in a cooling tower of the Opera House Hotel.
“Patients in the current cluster live or work in Morris Park, range in age from 45 to 75 and are all now hospitalized”, the DOHMH said.
Starting Monday, health department staff began providing literature about the bacteria to nursing homes and senior centers.
“The new legislation made it possible for us to immediately identify all the buildings in the surrounding area that had cooling towers, and to send teams out on Saturday and Sunday to sample those cooling towers”, said Dr. Varma. Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said New Yorkers with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and difficulty breathing, should “promptly” seek medical attention. Those who died had underlying health conditions.
Officials have tested 35 cooling towers in the neighborhood to try and identify the source of the outbreak, and they are reaching out to the community’s vulnerable population to make sure they understand the symptoms of the disease.
Legionnaires’ disease can not be spread from person to person, anyone with questions about the illness is encouraged to visit the city’s site on the disease. The disease most commonly affects older adults and people with weakened immune systems. New York City’s drinking water supply and drinking water tanks are unaffected.
More info on Legionnaires’ disease is available on the DOHMH website.