NEW YORK: Wednesday, the health department said that 31 cases of Legionnaires disease have been in the area this month.
Two patients to have the disease died and dozens were sick.
Most of the cases have been reported from the South Bronx neighborhoods of Highbridge, Morrisania, Hunts Point and Mott Haven.
“Legionnaires disease (also legionellosis or Legion fever) is a form of atypical pneumonia caused by any species of Gram-negative aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Over 90% of cases of Legionnaires’ disease are caused by Legionella pneumophila. Other causative species include L. longbeachae, L. feeleii, L. micdadei and L. anisa.”
These species cause a less severe infection known as Pontiac fever, which resembles acute influenza. These bacterial species can be water-borne or present in soil, whereas L. pneumophila has only been found in aquatic systems, where it is symbiotically present in aquatic-borne amoebae.
Health commissioner said, “We are conducting a swift investigation to determine the source of the outbreak and prevent future cases.” She said officials are, “concerned about this unusual”. She described the outbreak as an “evolving situation in which the numbers may change.”
Legionnaires disease can be found in warm water sources, which are 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 not spread from person to person.
Legionnaires disease usually sets in two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria and has symptoms similar to pneumonia, including shortness of breath, high fever, chills and chest pains. People with Legionnaires disease also experience appetite loss, confusion, fatigue and muscle aches.
Medical practitioners are testing water from cooling towers and other potential sources in the area to determine the source of the outbreak. Image of Getty