What to Know
Legionnaires' is not contagious and is easily treatable with antibiotics; like any form of pneumonia, though, it can be deadly
Residents of the affected Co-op City building who are elderly have underlying medical conditions are told to avoid showering there for now
Tap water is safe to drink; the health department says
Health officials are investigating a new cluster of cases of Legionnaires', a potentially deadly form of pneumonia in Co-op City, where an outbreak two and a half years ago sickened 12 people, causing one victim to partially lose his mobility and speech.
Authorities said Wednesday there were three cases in three connected buildings at the Bronx development in the last 12 months. One patient who was elderly died. The other two were treated at a hospital and released. Health officials didn't say exactly when the three contracted the disease, but said all the victims had underlying conditions that increased the chances of getting it.
The health department says it will sample the internal plumbing of the building as it works to determine the source of the outbreak. The building complex in question does not have a cooling tower, though it was one in Co-op City that was thought to be linked to a dozen cases in December 2015.
Legionnaires' is not contagious and is easily treatable with antibiotics. People get the disease by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria. Residents of the affected Co-op City building who are older than 50 or have underlying medical conditions are told to avoid showering until the investigation is completed, but tap water in the building is safe to drink, health officials say.
Legionnaires' disease usually sets in two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria and represents with symptoms similar to pneumonia, including shortness of breath, high fever, chills and chest pains. People with Legionnaire's also experience appetite loss, fatigue and muscle aches.
Up to 500 cases are reported in the city every year. Like other types of pneumonia, Legionnaires’ disease can be severe and even deadly, especially for people of advanced age and those with a compromised immune system.
Ronald Hines previously told News 4 his son was one the 12 people who contracted the disease back in 2015.
"He lost mobility, he lost his speech," he said.
"It took my family through a lot of concern and emotion," said Hines. "It's horrible."
Legionnaires', discovered in 1976, is relatively rare and can have a fatality rate of anywhere from 5 percent to 40 percent. After the outbreak in the South Bronx in 2015, the health department announced a comprehensive plan to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in the city, including implementation of the toughest cooling tower regulations in the nation, the hiring of more inspectors and training of existing city personnel to inspect towers if needed, expanded lab capacity, and faster community notification.