The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that affected the Bronx several years ago hit the Upper East Side recently.
In a two-week span, one person, aged 90, died and six were hospitalized in Manhattan’s Lenox Hill neighborhood. Most of the cases occurred around the Third Avenue and East 70th Street area.
“I am deeply concerned that seven cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in Lenox Hill,” said New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in a statement. “I offer my sincerest condolences to the family of the individual who died from the disease. My thoughts are with those who have been infected, and I wish them a speedy recovery.”
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include the flu, fever, chills, muscle aches and coughing. Some people affected by the disease could experience headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion or diarrhea.
According to the New York City Department of Health, Legionnaires’ disease can be treated with antibiotics. Those at high risk include the elderly, especially those who smoke cigarettes and people with chronic lung diseases or weakened immune systems. In many of the cases in the Bronx and Lenox Hill, people contracted the disease by inhaling water vapors from water cooling towers that were contaminated with the legionella bacteria.
“The Health Department has identified an increase and cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases in the Lenox Hill area,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a released statement. “We have begun an investigation to determine the source of the cluster, focusing on cooling towers in the neighborhood. I urge individuals in this area with respiratory symptoms to seek medical attention right away.”
“My office has been in contact with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and was informed that the department is actively investigating these cases and sampling and testing water from all the cooling tower systems within a half kilometer radius of Lenox Hill,” Maloney stated.