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New York City health officials report that two people have died and at least 24 have been infected with Legionnaires’ Disease in the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx.
Veterans’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella, which is commonly found in water.
People get the disease when they inhale a mist or vapor that contains the bacteria; the bacteria are not spread from person to person.
In addition, people cannot get Legionnaires’ disease by drinking water that contains the Legionella bacteria.
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“It’s fine to drink cold water from the tap. Start by heating water for tea, coffee or cooking with cold water,” notes the city.
The city’s health department said the community cluster — which was first tracked early last month — was located in ZIP codes 10452 and 10456 and adjacent communities.
“Two people have died and four people are currently hospitalized. The two people who died were over the age of 50 and had risk factors for serious illnesses. The clean-up ordered by the ministry for the four cooling towers that tested positive for the The presence of Legionella pneumophila, a type of bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, was completed last week,” it said.
Any New Yorker with flu-like symptoms, coughing, fever or difficulty breathing should see a doctor immediately.
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Additional symptoms include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion or diarrhea.
Legionnaires’ disease causes flu-like symptoms, and complications of the disease can be fatal.
People who smoke or have a medical condition that affects breathing are especially at risk, as are people 50 years of age or older and people with weakened immune systems or who are taking medications that weaken their immune systems.
While Legionnaires’ Disease can be treated with antibiotics if caught early, there is no vaccine or drug that can prevent it.
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The best way to stop Legionnaires’ disease is to properly maintain the water system where the bacteria can grow.
New York City has had Legionella outbreaks before, most notably in 2015 when 12 people died.