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Four new Legionnaires cases in Bronx as eight die at Illinois veterans home

The Bronx cases are from a water distribution system at Melrose Houses.

A French doctorReuters


There are four new cases of Legionnaires disease in New York City’s South Bronx and the death toll of a new outbreak at a veterans home has climbed to eight.

Officials are also monitoring an outbreak at San Quentin prison.

In the Bronx, the city Health Department confirms that Legionnaires' bacteria has been found in one building’s water distribution system at the Melrose Houses public housing complex.

The Housing Authority has shut down hot water but insists cold water is safe. Hot water service will be restored once decontamination is complete and new filters installed.

Three of the four sickened are already out of the hospital, officials said,

RELATED: The Bronx outbreak and the Opera House hotel.

Legionnaires is not as uncommon as many people think. It is the third most common pneumonia bacteria that sickens thousands each year, usually the elderly or immunocompromised.

What makes it a public health concern are concentrated outbreaks, such as the recent one in the South Bronx -- officials said the Melrose Houses incident is unrelated -- that killed 12 in the South Bronx and officially sickened 128.

The Illinois deaths.

An example of a concentrated, unusual outbreak is what is happening in Quincy,Illinois at the Illinois Veterans' Home, where officials tell Reuters that eight have died and 41 are sickened.

RELATED:NYC says the outbreak is over.

There were three other cases in Quincy that officials say are not connected to the outbreak at the veterans home.

About 400 people live at the veterans home, the largest and oldest such facility in the state, said Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs spokesman Ryan Yantis. Quincy is about 240 miles southwest of Chicago.

Meanwhile, six inmates at San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco have been sickened and 95 inmates there are under observation.

What is Legionnaires

Legionnaires' is a severe form of pneumonia caused by inhaling mist infected with the bacteria Legionella. Symptoms include fever, cough, chills and muscle aches.

Legionnaires' disease cannot be transmitted person-to-person, and a person must inhale contaminated water vapor to be infected.

With Reuters News Service

John A. Oswald is editor-at-large at Metro and can be found on Twitter@nyc_oz.
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