Bronx Legionnaires outbreak: 1 dead, 19 confirmed cases

An outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in the Bronx has left one person dead and eight hospitalized as there are now 19 confirmed cases of the bacterial disease, New York City city health officials said Wednesday.

According to the New York City Health Department, four cooling towers in the Highbridge section of the Bronx have tested positive for the presence of the bacteria Legionella which causes the disease, a form of pneumonia. The department has ordered the towers to be disinfected.

"We are saddened to hear about a death in a person who contracted Legionnaires’," said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan in a statement. "Health Department staff are working to ensure that buildings in the cluster area are treated and conditions remediated quickly. 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 with pre-existing chronic health issues. That’s why it’s crucial that you seek health care as soon as you experience flu-like symptoms."

RELATED: Harlem Legionnaires' disease cluster traced to hospital cooling tower

People can get Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in water vapor with the bacteria. It isn't contagious, and can be treated with antibiotics, but can be dangerous for some people, like those with pre-existing conditions. People at higher risk include those ages 50 and above, cigarette smokers, and people with chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems. Symptoms include muscle aches, fever, and chills.

New York City has had Legionnaires' outbreaks before, notably in 2015 when 12 people died and more than 100 were infected.

Last year, a Legionnaires outbreak was traced to a hospital cooling tower in Harlem. 

With the Associated Press.