The New York City Department of Health is investigating the circumstances surrounding an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx.
Since July 10, there have been 31 reported cases. While two people have died, it hasn’t been determined if Legionnaires’ was the cause, as reported by CBS Local.
“We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases in the South Bronx,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “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.
Legionnaires’ disease, caused by exposure to the bacteria Legionella, can be contracted by inhaling contaminated aerosols from cooling towers, hot tubs, showers and faucets or drinking infected water. The symptoms are similar to those caused by pneumonia, which include shortness of breath, chills, chest pains, appetite loss, high fever and fatigue.
Most susceptible to the disease are the elderly, cigarette smokers and people with acute lung or immune system diseases. People consuming immunosuppressive drugs are also susceptible to Legionnaires’. The disease is not contagious.
Majority of the cases of Legionnaires’ have been treated successfully with antibiotics, as reported by NBC New York.
‘Unusual Increase’ In Number Of Cases
Almost 2200 cases of Legionnaires’ have been reported this year, with 100 being in New York City. The cases in South Bronx highlight an “unusual increase,” according to Bassett.
“I want to make clear that this is a common pneumonia, one which is readily treated,” Bassett said. She further said that it is “especially important for people to seek care early, and especially important for health care providers to be aware that we are seeing these cases.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Thank God this is a disease that can be treated, and the important thing is early detection.”
Three months ago, James Rouse died of Legionnaires’ disease. While his death has not been connected to the recent outbreak in South Bronx, his family are wondering if there is a possible link.
James was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ after he went to the hospital with a 104 degree fever on April 30; he passed away 10 days later.
“I don’t think it’s common for an otherwise healthy 52-year-old man to pass away in 2015, from Legionnaires’ disease,” James’ brother, John Rouse, said, “What if it turns out that their deaths are related to his on April 30. Are you going to tell me that wasn’t preventable?”
James’ family says that they didn’t get an investigation when they approached the Department of Health.
“I know the mayor and commissioner of health doesn’t want to start any kind of panic about this, but I will tell you, based on our experience, that they are completely underplaying the condition as it currently exists,” Rouse said.
James, who lived in Manhattan, taught music in the South Bronx.
The last outbreak that struck Bronx was in December, where 12 people in Co-op City contracted the disease. There were no casualties in the outbreak.
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