The New York City Health Department are investigating a community cluster of 14 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Lower Washington Heights area of Manhattan.

LegionnairesHealth officials are investigating these cases and testing the water from all cooling tower systems in this section of Washington Heights.

Ages of the individuals ranged from under 40 to over 80, but most were ages 50 and above. There have been no deaths associated with this cluster.

“The Health Department has identified a cluster of Legionnaires disease in the Lower Washington Heights area,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “While most people exposed to Legionella don’t get sick, individuals ages 50 and above, especially those who smoke and have chronic lung conditions, are at a higher risk. This disease is very treatable with antibiotics. I encourage anyone with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease to seek care early.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that is caused by the bacteria Legionella, which grows in warm water. Symptoms resemble other types of pneumonia and can include fever, chills, muscle aches, and cough. Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.

Individuals only get sick by breathing in water vapor containing Legionella, and the disease is not transmitted from person to person. Individuals at higher risk include those ages 50 and above, cigarette smokers, and people with chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems. People living or working in the area who are experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention with a primary care provider or seek urgent care.