De Blasio: 46 Cases Have Been Identified, 2 People Have Died

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — City officials have identified two sources contributing to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that two rooftop cooling systems testified positive for Legionella bacteria — at Lincoln Hospital and the Concourse Plaza apartment building.

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Since July 10, the city has identified 46 cases of Legionnaires’ disease, all in the South Bronx, the mayor said. Two people have died.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the two people who died were in their 50s and suffered from a host of other health issues, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

“They had multiple other diseases — lung disease, heart disease,” she told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

De Blasio said the decontimination process is underway at both sites, which should be completed by Friday afternoon.

“There is no reason for alarm because the situation is being addressed, but it’s good for everyone to understand this disease and be able to respond if they might have the symptoms or if anyone they know would,” the mayor said.

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Legionnaires’ disease can usually be traced to places favorable to Legionella growth such as cooling towers, hot water tanks, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers and condensers in large air conditioning systems. It is spread through contaminated mist and is not contagious, Bassett said.

The city is continuing to test other nearby buildings where there are water towers and rooftop cooling systems.

“I want to make it clear that this is not about water towers and our drinking water,” Bassett said. “There is no worry about our water supply. We are concerned about cooling towers, which release warm mist. The water supply in the South Bronx remains entirely safe.”

Most of the cases were reported in Highbridge, Morrisania, Hunts Point and Mott Haven.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms appear two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria.

Bassett urged anyone experiencing symptoms to visit a doctor. The condition is easily treatable with antibiotics, she added.

The two people who died from the disease had other significant health problems, city officials said.

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Elderly people or those with lung conditions or weakened immune systems may be at higher risk.