Health department hosts meeting for Lenox Hill residents on Legionnaires' disease

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- There are new details about a cluster of Legionnaires' disease cases in Manhattan.

The number stands at seven with more than 100 cooling towers tested on the Upper East Side.

Monday night, the city tried to calm growing worries by having the health department host a community meeting.

There were a lot of people raising their hands at the town hall meeting.

They wanted to know about what the city is calling a cluster of people with sometimes fatal Legionnaires' disease.

"The only thing people had in common was geography, meaning that they lived in the Lenox Hill neighborhood," said Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, NYC Health Commissioner.

Seven people in the neighborhood were diagnosed with the disease between June 5th and the 15th. But there have been no more since then.

But one woman, well into her 90's who had other health issues, did die and two others remain hospitalized.

The city believes the cause is the legionella bacteria that sometimes gathers in water cooling towers and is spread by a water vapor that comes from those towers.

"We have looked at every single cooling tower in this area and are awaiting the test results, but have issued orders for additional cleaning," Bassett said.

Susan Haines actually had Legionnaires' back in the 1970's, so she's worried about the cluster.

"I was just concerned with the fact, could I get it again, and how do they treat it?" Haines said.

And Dr. Cathie Currie is an epidemiologist, so she was worried about how the city is inspecting cooling towers.

"I think we're well protected here," Dr. Currie said. "I feel very reassured."

Residents wanted to know what the borders of the Lenox Hill neighborhood are.

The health commissioner wouldn't say, because if you develop symptoms and you live anywhere on the Upper East Side, you should go see a doctor.

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