In an update to the expanding Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the New York City’s Bronx borough, New York City health officials now report four fatalities linked to the bacterial disease as of Saturday. The total case count also rose to 65.

Upon inspection of nearly two dozen buildings in South Bronx, five buildings cooling towers, including the historic Opera House Hotel, Lincoln Medical Center and the Concourse Plaza mall and movie complex, tested positive for the Legionella bacterium.

Legionella pneumophila bacteria/CDC
Legionella pneumophila bacteria/CDC

During the past several months, NYC health officials have investigated outbreaks and issued health alerts in Co-Op City in the Bronx and in the Flushing-Clearview section of Queens.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella. Additional symptoms include: headache, fatigue, loss of appetite,confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria. Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, cooling towers, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person. Groups at high risk for Legionnaire’s disease include people who are middle-aged or older – especially cigarette smokers – people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs). Those with symptoms should call their doctor and ask about testing for Legionnaire’s disease.

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