3 new cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported in upper Manhattan

HAMILTON HEIGHTS — Three new cases of the of Legionnaires disease were reported in upper Manhattan Thursday.

A community meeting was held to warn residents about a cluster of cases.

“I thought I was going to die,” Washington Heights resident Lorenzo McGougan said.

The disease is spread by breathing in water vapor containing the legionnella bacteria, health officials said.

McGougan said he contracted Legionnaires' about a month and a half ago. He lives in the same area which is now part of a cluster of Legionnaires' that has been identified by health department officials.

Eight other cases of Legionnaires' disease have been reported in lower Washington Heights over the last week.

The total is now up to 11 people. Nine remain hospitalized.

All of them live between 155th Street and 165th Street.

WHAT IS LEGIONNAIRES' DISEASE?

Legionnaires’ disease is a treatable infection using antibiotics for pneumonia. Every year, there are between 200 and 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the city.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella.

Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person. Groups at highest risk for Legionnaires’ disease include people who are middle-aged or older, especially cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs). Those with symptoms should call their doctor and ask about testing for Legionnaires’ disease.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria.

The Health Department is urging residents in the area with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches, to promptly seek medical attention. The Health Department has alerted health care providers in the area about this cluster.

TREATMENT

Legionnaires’ disease can be deadly, but is treatable with antibiotics. Most people get better with early treatment, although they may need to be hospitalized. Others have died from complications of the disease.