NYC officials record second death in Bronx Legionnaires’ outbreak

NYC officials record second death in Bronx Legionnaires’ outbreak: 24 cases tied to contamination from four cooling towers

  • The New York City Legionnaire’s outbreak has now reached two deaths and 24 total cases, officials report
  • The cases have been tied to four Bronx cooling towers found to have been contaminated with bacteria that causes the infection
  • Legionnaire’s can not spread human-to-human, officials assure the public
  • Officials report that the cooling towers believed to be at fault have now been sanitized  

Two people in the Bronx borough of New York City have died from Legionnaires’ disease after two dozen cases of the rare bacterial infection have been tied to contaminated cooling towers in the area.

The New York City Department of Health confirmed the deaths Wednesday, saying both patients were over 50 years old and had factors that put them at risk of severe disease.

Cases of the pneumonia have been detected in the Highbridge neighborhood of the city’s most northern borough – which includes the region just next to the iconic Yankees Stadium.

Officials also confirmed that 24 cases have been confirmed as part of this outbreak, with four patients currently hospitalized. Four cooling towers that tested positive for bacteria that causes the disease have been sanitized.

The recent outbreak is one of the last things the city needed, with the Big Apple currently also being slammed by Covid, and leading the nation in positive monkeypox cases early in yet another public health emergency.

Two dozen cases, four hospitalizations and two deaths from Legionnaire’s in the Bronx borough of New York City have been tied to four cooling towers found to be contaminated with bacteria that causes the rare infection 

Legionnaires disease is caused by Legionella bacteria which can infect the lungs of a person who either swallows of breathes in water and air that contain it.

The bacteria occurs naturally in freshwater environments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, but it becomes a danger when it finds its way into man made buildings.

New York City officials first detected cases of the pneumonia at the start of May, and announced eight cases and one death from the bacterial infection on May 23.

Days later, on May 25, the case count had increased to 25 and the city’s health department announced that four cooling towers in the Highbridge area had tested positive for the bacteria.

Because cooling towers pour exhaust into the air, it is possible that these people inhaled contaminated air or came in contact with contaminated water in the area.

The infection kills around ten percent of people who catch it, according to official figures, but that mortality rate may be significantly lower because many cases are asymptomatic.

‘While most people exposed to the bacteria do not get sick, Legionnaires’ disease can cause severe illness or be fatal for those at higher risk, including people pre-existing chronic health issues,’ Dr Ashwin Vasan, city health commissioner, said in a statement last month. 

‘That’s why it’s crucial that you seek health care as soon as you experience flu-like symptoms.’ 

Symptoms of the virus often initially match those of either the common flu or a mild case of COVID-19.

This puts extra stress on health centers in the city, as officials are recommending people who are feeling slightly ill to not only get tested for Covid, but for the bacterial infection as well.

Human-to-human transmission of Legionaries’ is not believed to be possible. 

Another public health emergency is coming at the worst time for the Big Apple.

The city’s daily Covid infection figures are approaching 4,000 per day once again, continuing a gradual rise in the months since the winter Omicron wave ended.

Deaths from the virus have remained low, though, staying in the single digits since March.

Monkeypox has arrived in the city as well, though, with the Big Apple having recorded four of the 21 total cases in the U.S. – the most of any individual locality in America.