New York City (USA) - Update: Legionnaires' disease, more cases & 1 fatal case reported

October 11, 2018

One person has died in connection to a 2nd cluster of Legionnaires' disease discovered in Washington Heights [northern neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan] this year [2018], officials announced [Wed 10 Oct 2018]. The Health Department was notified of the death by the hospital early [Wed 10 Oct 2018] morning. The victim has not yet been identified.

Of 15 other cases -- 7 people remain hospitalized, 7 have been discharged from the hospital and 1 was seen as an outpatient. More cases are possible as Washington Heights residents go to their doctors.

Health officials say _Legionella_ bacterium was found in a cooling tower connected to commercial AC units. Officials say the bacterium was not found in the water supply, and that water is safe to drink.

A total of 20 cooling towers have been tested, but those results will take 2 weeks. As a precaution, owners of 11 towers that had preliminary positive tests were preemptively ordered to remediate.

In a teleconference [Wed 10 Oct 2018] afternoon, acting health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said the department's suspicion is the hot weather leading up to the cluster was the cause. Barbot released the following statement:

"The Health Department has confirmed 16 cases of Legionnaires' disease associated with the Lower Washington Heights cluster. One person who had underlying health conditions has died. New York City has the strongest enforcement regarding cooling towers in the nation, and we continue to take very aggressive steps to respond to this cluster and prevent more people from becoming sick. The Health Department has investigated every cooling tower in the area, ordering landlords to remediate where necessary and has provided information to residents. The risk to residents of contracting Legionnaire's disease remains very low; however, adults with flu-like symptoms, like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention so a doctor can determine whether _Legionella_ testing is needed. Legionnaires' disease is not contagious and is easily treatable with antibiotics. People get Legionnaires disease by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria."

The previous cluster ended in mid-August [2018] and the latest cluster began in late September [2018].

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