The latest cases of Legionnaires' disease, which has appeared in several states, is wreaking havoc back in the place where the outbreak all began: New York City.
The latest cases of Legionnaires’ disease, which has appeared in several states, is wreaking havoc back in the place where the outbreak all began: New York City.
Legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella, popped up on the radar in the South Bronx, New York on July 10, 2015. The bacterium grows in warm water in places such as faucets, showers, and water coolers. After testing 17 water coolers, five tested positive for Legionella bacteria and the areas were disinfected; however, 12 people died from the disease in this location.
The outbreak didn’t end there, unfortunately, and in early September six prisoners were sickened by the disease at the San Quentin State Prison in California and dozens more were under observation. Meanwhile, Legionnaires’ disease infected nearly 40 individuals at the Illinois Veterans’ Home-Quincy.
The most recent cases were reported on September 21 in Morris Park, a section of the Bronx. The patients range in age from 45 to 75. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene verified that this latest outbreak is unrelated to the original NYC cases over the summer. As of September 30:
“The Department is taking immediate steps to determine the source and protect people who live and work in Morris Park,” Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett, said in a statement.
Environmental scientists have taken samples from cooling towers in the area and patients’ medical records are being reviewed. Health officials are especially looking at populations who are more susceptible to illness, such as nursing homes and senior centers.
“I urge all New Yorkers to seek care immediately if they have flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, headache, or difficulty breathing,” Bassett advised. Keep in mind that Legionnaires’ does not spread between individuals. A person becomes infected by breathing in water vapor that contains the bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified 10 things that healthcare workers need to know about Legionnaires’ Disease:
2. Who to Test
3. How to Test
4. Respiratory Specimen for Diagnosis
5. Preferred Treatment
6. Ask Patients About Travel
7. Frequency of Disease
8. Sources of Legionella
9. Risk Factors
10. How to Report Diagnosis