CDC helping NYC with Legionnaires' disease outbreak

New York City health officials say they're optimistic they've seen the worst of the Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the South Bronx.

On Friday, the New York City Department of Health said no new deaths had been reported in the previous 24 hours and the frequency of emergency room visits for pneumonia was decreasing.

"We have fewer new cases, people are seeking care promptly and getting treatment promptly. We're optimistic that we've seen the worst of this outbreak, and that our remediation efforts are having an impact," said Dr. Mary Bassett, NYC Health Commissioner.

The CDC deployed a team to New York City to help fight the outbreak.

en people have died and 101 people have been diagnosed. Officials said all of the patients who died were older adults with underlying health problems. The one, new reported case was diagnosed in prior days and not in the last 24 hours, added Bassett.

It is the largest outbreak of Legionnaires the city has ever seen.

Earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio reported that the outbreak was sourced to large on-residential commercials buildings that are fairly new. The outbreak has been linked to contaminated water coolers. 17 coolers were tested; five locations that tested positive for legionella bacteria have been sanitized. The legionella bacteria causes Legionnaire's disease through inhalation. The disease cannot be spread from person to person.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state Department of Health would offer free testing of cooling towers and evaporative condenser units, where the bacteria also can hide. The offer is good until October.

Residents can call the following hotlines for free testing: 888-768-7243 & 518-485-1159.

A worker at a gas turbine company in Rockland County has been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, according officials. Chromalloy Gas Turbine Corp. said it is not clear if the employee was exposed to legionella at the facility, but as a precaution it was closed. A company spokesperson said the facility's cooling towers would be sanitized and quarantined. 

"We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaire's disease cases in the South Bronx," Bassett said. " I urge anyone with symptoms to seek medical attention right away."

The Health Department issued this statement: "If you live in the area and experience respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches, seek medical attention right away."

Investigators found samples of legionella in air conditioning equipment at Lincoln Hospital and a complex that contains a movie theater, the AP reported.

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). 

Symptoms include fever, chills and muscle aches.

In January, eight cases of the disease were diagnosed in residents of Co-Cop City in the Bronx.

The cooling towers at the housing complex were found to be contaminated with the bacteria.

Visit the Health Department's website for more information: NYC.GOV.

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