U.S. News

Legionnaires' disease kills two, sickens 31 in New York City

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed two people and sickened 31 is under investigation in the South Bronx section of New York City, health officials said on Wednesday.

The new wave of Legionnaires’, a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria, has been recorded since July 10, the city’s health department said in a statement.

It was double the number of cases recorded in the last outbreak, in which 12 people in the Bronx fell ill in December 2014. The cause was traced to contamination in cooling towers at Co-op City, the world’s largest cooperative housing development, according to the health department.

The disease is caused by Legionella, a bacteria found in certain plumbing systems, including hot tubs, humidifiers, cooling towers and hot water tanks. It is spread by breathing in mist from water, and can’t be spread from person to person.

The health department said it was testing water in the area to determine the cause of the outbreak. Symptoms for Legionnaires’ include fever, cough, chills and muscle aches.

“We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases in the South Bronx,” Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement.

“We are conducting a swift investigation to determine the source of the outbreak and prevent future cases. I urge anyone with symptoms to seek medical attention right away,” she said.

Reporting by Katie Reilly; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Doina Chiacu