1 death, more Legionnaires' disease cases confirmed in the Bronx

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
1 death, more Legionnaires disease cases confirmed in the Bronx
Marcus Solis has the latest information

MORRIS PARK, N.Y. (WABC) -- One death is now associated with the latest newly-discovered cluster of Legionnaires' disease cases in the Bronx.

There have been 13 cases in the Morris Park neighborhood, all with onset dates before September 21. Authorities announced the death Wednesday. Eleven individuals remain hospitalized, while one has been discharged, and all patients had underlying health conditions.

"We have a situation here in this broader community that, I want to say, in the outset, is different than what we experienced a couple of weeks back in the south Bronx," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. "This is a more limited situation."

Officials say 35 cooling towers in area were sampled on Saturday and Sunday, and 15 came back with positive results (some buildings have multiple towers). They were located at:

--2725 East Tremont - Chase Bank

--1740 Eastchester Road - Calvary Hospital

--2964 East Tremont - Lehman High School

--1500 Waters Place - Bronx State Psychiatric

--1199 Sackett Ave - Einstein College

--1845 Eastchester Road - Einstein College

--1301 Morriss Park Ave - Einstein College

--1250 Morris Park Ave - Einstein College

--1865 Eastchester Road - Einstein College

--1925-1935 Eastchester Road - Einstein College

"This was not expected, this was the last thing I expected to hear," said Councilman James Vacca, describing his reaction after a call from the mayor's office telling him Legionnaires' disease was not only back in his borough, it's now in his district.

"We in the Bronx have now had this happen now twice in the past two to three months and we do need explanations," said Vacca.

The cases are limited to the Morris Park area, where the mayor and health commissioner met with seniors Wednesday, reminding residents that the cluster is much smaller than the outbreak this summer in the South Bronx.

"Look at what's happening in our emergency rooms in the Bronx, we don't see any increased activity around pneumonia," said de Blasio. "So those are very hopeful signs."

"The new cases are all people who we went back through our records, talked to them about where they live, where they work and then attributed them to this cluster because we found a link with the Morris Park neighborhood," said city Health Commissioner Mary Bassett.

All 15 locations have been ordered by the health Commissioner to begin cleaning and disinfection immediately, and all Emergency Departments have been contacted to look for cases. More than 40 potential locations of vulnerable populations have been identified, including senior centers, and outreach teams have begun visiting them.

"If someone shows the symptoms and they get to healthcare quickly, they have an overwhelming chance of being fine because the antibiotics work," de Blasio said. "The problem we found is that when people don't go and get the care they need."

A Town Hall event is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday.

Legionella is ubiquitous in the environment, and there are typically 200 to 300 cases per year in New York City. Legionnaires' disease is very treatable with antibiotics, and the disease cannot be spread from person to person. Groups at high risk include people who are middle-aged or older, especially cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems. The city's drinking water remains unaffected.

City health officials have confirmed three more cases of Legionnaire's disease in the Morris Park neighborhood in the Bronx, bring the total number of cases to 10 in the new cluster. Nine of the victims remain hospitalized with all of the patients having underlying health conditions.

This outbreak comes a little more than a month after the city identified the source of another Legionnaires' disease outbreak in South Bronx and declared that outbreak as being resolved. Officials do not believe the new outbreak is connected with the last one. They added that residents should be vigilant and get treated if they develop symptoms.