What to Know
City officials are investigating a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease in Manhattan after eight people were diagnosed with the disease
The outbreak cluster is in Lower Washington Heights and mostly involves individuals older than 50, health department officials say
The city is “actively investigating” the cases; Individuals can get the disease breathe in water vapor that contains the bacteria Legionella
City officials are investigating a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease in upper Manhattan after nearly a dozen people have been diagnosed with the disease in the last seven days.
The outbreak cluster is in Lower Washington Heights and mostly involves individuals older than 50, although there are some younger than 40 years old, Health Department officials announced Wednesday.
All individuals diagnosed with Legionnaires have been hospitalized, with one already discharged. There are no deaths associated with this cluster. At first the number of cases was eight, but late Thursday that number climbed to 11 after three more people were diagnosed with the disease.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that is caused by the bacteria Legionella, which tends to grow in warm water.
Cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifies, hot water tangs and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems can be some of the plumbing system sources where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth.
According to officials, those who breathe in water vapor that contains the bacteria can get the disease.
Symptoms resemble other types of pneumonia and can include fever, chills, muscle aches, and cough.
According to the city’s Health Department, 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 is not contagious and can easily be treated with antibiotics when caught early. Though the disease cannot be transmitted from person to person, the risk of getting Legionnaires’ disease is higher for individuals 50 years and older, cigarette smokers and people with chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems, officials say.
“The Health Department has identified a cluster of Legionnaires disease in the Lower Washington Heights area,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement. “While most people exposed to Legionella don’t get sick, individuals ages 50 and above, especially those who smoke and have chronic lung conditions, are at a higher risk. This disease is very treatable with antibiotics. I encourage anyone with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease to seek care early.”
The city’s Health Department says it is “actively investigating” the cases as well as sampling and testing water from all cooling systems in the area.