ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — Two patients in Rockland County contracted Legionnaires' disease in the past several weeks but health officials say the cases are not related to the fatal and "unusual" outbreak in New York City.
The most recent diagnosis was reported Monday evening in Orangeburg, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.
An employee at Chromalloy, a gas turbine company in Orangeburg, was diagnosed last week with Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of a pneumonia blamed for 12 deaths in the South Bronx.
Rockland County officials said that employee's illness is one of two "sporadic" cases of Legionnaires' in the county and emphasized that those cases are not related to the outbreak in New York City.
A third case in the area is connected to the outbreak. In that instance, a Rockland County resident contracted the illness while working in the Bronx, county officials said.
All three patients became sick sometime after July 1, they said.
Chromalloy reopened Monday morning after being cleaned and disinfected, the company said, adding they are not certain where the worker contracted the illness.
"While it remains unclear if our employee was exposed to the legionella bacterium at the facility, based on our conversations with the experts we took all the necessary precautions in addressing any risks that could have existed at the plant," a Chromalloy spokesperson said.
The business cleaned its cooling towers a second time on Sunday as a "precaution," the spokesperson added.
Legionnaires' disease is caused by the bacterium Legionella and is contracted when a patient breathes in mist containing that bacterium. In the South Bronx, cooling towers are being fingered as the source of the outbreak.
Between 8,000 and 18,000 U.S. patients are hospitalized each year with Legionnaires' disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's easily treated with antibiotics if caught early, but can cause serious complications or death in patients with underlying health conditions.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday announced that a total of 12 people have died in connection with the South Bronx outbreak. The total number of cases is now at 113.
While the numbers of total cases continued to grow, officials said the number of new cases is slowing. That discrepancy is due to a lag in diagnosis and reporting, de Blasio said.
City health officials said they are buoyed by the fact that no one has become sick in the past several days and that all cooling towers in the affected Bronx neighborhoods have been cleaned.
In response to the outbreak, called the largest of its kind in New York City history, de Blasio said the City Council will mull over new legislation Tuesday that would require all building owners to register their cooling towers and undergo quarterly inspections of those towers, which are not the same as the iconic wooden water towers seen on many city roofs. New cooling towers would have to be registered with the city before opening, according to the proposed legislation.