HIGHBRIDGE, the Bronx (PIX11) – The Legionnaires’ disease cluster in the Bronx that resulted in two deaths has ended, New York City health officials announced Friday.
There have been no new Legionnaires’ disease cases in the last four weeks in the Highbridge neighborhood where the cluster was located, according to the New York City health department.
In total, 30 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were associated with the cluster since it was first identified May 3. The disease hospitalized 28 people. Twenty-four of those patients were released from the hospital. Two New Yorkers died from the disease, officials said.
Epidemiologists matched a Legionella strain found in a cooling tower at 1325 Jerome Avenue with the strain found in two patients from the Highbridge cluster. The building owner was ordered to disinfect the cooling tower on May 23 and perform additional cleaning on June 3.
“Thank you to the dozens of elected officials and community leaders who worked with the Department to inform residents in the area about proper precautions,” Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said. “The Department’s investigation was able to identify one cooling tower that had a genetic match with patient specimens, and the cooling tower was ordered to take additional cleaning and disinfection measures.”
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 died from the Highbridge 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.
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.