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Legionnaires' death toll in New York City climbs from four to seven

Bronx Legionnaires' disease victims have been elderly or had other health woes.

Reuters


The death toll from an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in New York City has climbed to seven, the mayor's office has announced.

RELATED: Metro's look at Legionnaires.

All of the victims ot the outbreak in The Bronx have either been older or had underlying health conditions.

At a community meeting in the borough Monday night at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, city health czar Mary Bassett insisted her agency is on top of the crisis.

" We are taking this very seriously,” she said of the airborne killer that thrives in air conditioners, cooling towers and other devices where there is moisture, like humidifiers.

Update stats from the Health Department report that 81 have come down with the disease and 28 have been treated and released from local hospitals.

Up to 30% of people who catch it die and there are an estimated 8,000 to 18,000 cases a year, federal health officials have said.

Many of the ill in NYC, come from a cluster of buildings in the South Bronx that have been decontaminated, officials said.

STATEMENT FROM NYC MAYOR'S OFFICE

“Legionnaires’ Disease has been a persistent public health threat for years, and has intensified in both New York City and across the nation over the past decade. The City continues its immediate response to the current outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in the South Bronx – including comprehensive cleaning and remediation of infected sites, treatment of those who have contracted the disease, and a vigorous public information campaign to ensure people know the facts.

“However, a more systemic solution is required to prevent the cycle of these outbreaks from continuing. This week, new legislation will be announced designed to halt future outbreaks of Legionnaires’, and place new emphasis on long-term prevention. The comprehensive package will address inspections, new recommended action in the case of positive tests, and sanctions for those who fail to comply with new standards. Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks have become far too common over the past ten years, and the City will respond not by only addressing an outbreak as it occurs, but with a new plan to help prevent these outbreaks from happening in the first place.”

Legionnaires’ Disease: The Facts

Source:Breathing in water vapors containing the bacteria typically from a hot tub, shower, humidifier or air-conditioning unit. It is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

Symptoms:Fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and confusion.

Treatment:Antibiotics, possible hospitalization.

Prevention:The best way to prevent an outbreak is to ensure any water system is properly maintained and conforms relevant health and safety regulations, in this case because Legionella is commonly found in water it would be pertinent to regulate the water temperature in the system.

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