HIGHBRIDGE, the Bronx (PIX11) — Two people have died and four others are hospitalized due to Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx, New York City health officials said.

Since May 3, there have been 24 cases of Legionnaires’ disease identified in the Highbridge neighborhood (ZIP codes 10452 and 10456) of the Bronx. Legionella pneumophila, a type of bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, was found in four cooling towers in Highbridge, Concourse and Morrisania. They have since been disinfected.

Legionnaires' disease Highbridge, Bronx
Twenty-four Legionnaires’ disease cases have been identified in the Highbridge area of the Bronx since May 3, 2022. (PIX11)

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that is caught by breathing in water vapor that contains Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious and can be treated with antibiotics when caught early. However, the disease can be fatal for people who are considered high risk.

Those at high risk include people who are 50 years or older, smoke, have a chronic lung disease, have a weakened immune system, or take medicines that weaken their immune system. Both people who have died from this recent cluster were over the age of 50 and were at high risk for the disease, officials said.

Legionnaires’ disease causes flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. People living or working in the Highbridge area who are experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention, health officials said.

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.

On average, there are 200 to 500 Legionnaires’ disease cases reported in New York City each year. Building owners are required to have cooling towers tested every 90 days.