New York

Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak in Manhattan Grows to 16 Cases: Health Officials

What to Know

  • City officials are investigating a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease in Manhattan
  • There are now 16 cases in the cluster, and at least 7 of them are in the hospital, health officials say
  • Individuals can get the disease breathe in water vapor that contains the bacteria Legionella

A cluster of Legionnaires' disease cases in one Manhattan neighborhood has grown to 16 cases, New York City health officials say. 

Seven people were in the hospital as a result of the Legionnaires' cluster in lower Washington Heights and northern Hamilton Heights as of Friday, the city Health Department said. There are no deaths associated with the cluster. 

"The Health Department is actively investigating these cases and sampled and tested water from all cooling tower systems in the area of the cluster to determine whether they have the type of Legionella bacteria that make people sick," the Health Department said in a statement. 

Legionnaires' disease is a form of pneumonia contracted by breathing in water droplets contaminated with the bacterium Legionella. Most cases can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth.

Health officials say 20 cooling towers have been inspected, and based on preliminary test results, have ordered several building owners to increase the use of biocides to kill the bacteria or to change the biocide previously used. 

The disease isn't passed from one person to another. Symptoms can include fever, chills and muscle aches. Individuals at high risk include people age 50 or older (especially if they smoke cigarettes), people with chronic lung disease and those with compromised immune systems. 

An average of 200 to 500 Legionnaires' disease cases are reported in the city each year. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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