9 hospitalized in cluster of Legionnaires' disease in Harlem

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Thursday, August 19, 2021
9 hospitalized in cluster of Legionnaires' disease in NYC
CeFaan Kim has more on the legionnaires' disease cluster in Harlem.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- The health department is investigating a community cluster of Legionnaires' disease in Central Harlem and surrounding communities.

Officials say nine people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease since Aug. 9 and all have been hospitalized. Seven of those people are 50 years or older.

The ZIP codes of concern are 10037 -- which runs from 130th Street and Lenox Avenue to 145th Street and Lenox -- and 10039 --which runs from 145th Street and Edgecombe Avenue up to Harlem River Drive.

People get the disease by breathing in water vapor that contains bacteria.

The health department is sampling and testing water from all cooling tower systems in the area of the cluster.

New Yorkers with flu-like symptoms, cough, fever or difficulty breathing should get tested for Legionnaires' and COVID-19.

"Anyone with flu-like symptoms should seek care early and - if they live in the affected area - ensure they are evaluated for Legionnaires' disease," said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. "Most people exposed to Legionella don't get sick but there are people at higher risk, such as those 50 and older, especially those who smoke and have chronic lung conditions."

No deaths have been associated with the cluster.

"Dealing with COVID and we've already been comprised and COVID has changed our lives in so many ways and we've had so many losses due to COVID, this is just alarming to me," said resident Jeff Williams.

Officials aren't saying exactly where the problem originated from but within the two ZIP codes is Harlem Hospital.

Eyewitness News reached out to the hospital asking if it's been impacted but we have not heard back.

Legionnaires' disease is not contagious and can be treated with antibiotics when caught early.

A virtual community meeting will be held Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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