HIGHBRIDGE, Bronx (WABC) -- The New York City Department of Health says one person has died from Legionnaires' disease as an outbreak in the Bronx has increased to 19 cases.
In addition, eight patients are hospitalized.
This is an increase from Friday, May 20, when the health department reported four cases and no deaths.
"We are saddened to hear about a death in a person who contracted Legionnaires'," Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said. "Health Department staff are working to ensure that buildings in the cluster area are treated and conditions remediated quickly. While most people exposed to the bacteria do not get sick, Legionnaires' disease can cause severe illness or be fatal for those at higher risk, including people pre-existing chronic health issues. That's why it's crucial that you seek health care as soon as you experience flu-like symptoms."
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Legionnaires' disease is not contagious, meaning it doesn't pass from person to person. It is a bacterial infection that can lead to flu like symptoms.
It can be treated by antibiotics if caught early, but it can be deadly if untreated, especially for older adults and people with underlying lung conditions.
Legionnaires' disease is caused by inhaling bacteria, most often from contaminated water vapor from cooling towners, spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks or air conditioning systems.
The health department is systematically looking for these contaminated water sources in the affected zip codes (10452 and 10456) and has now identified four cooling towers that contain the bacteria that causes the disease.
Those towers are now being disinfected.
The health department is urging anyone in the Highbridge neighborhood in the Bronx with flu-like symptoms to seek medical care immediately.
Due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19, people seeking care should be tested for COVID-19 and evaluated for Legionnaires' disease.
Tenants are still able to use and drink the water, but those who are at a higher risk of getting Legionnaires' are being advised to take additional precautions:
- Don't take a shower, even a cool shower, since it could create water vapor. Instead, take a bath, but fill the tub slowly. Try to minimize your time in the bathroom while the tub is filling.
- It's fine to wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating mist.
- It's fine to drink cold water from the tap, but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee or cooking.
- Tenants do not need to wear a mask.
- It is important to continue to wash your hands.
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