One Dies of Legionnaires’ Disease in Upper Manhattan

NYTimes.png By Zoe Greenberg

One person has died in connection with a cluster of Legionnaires’ diseasecases in Upper Manhattan, city health officials said on Tuesday.

The city declined to release the name of the person who died, but said he or she was over 50 years old and had risk factors for Legionnaires’ disease. Common risk factors include heavy cigarette smoking, chronic lung disease and a weakened immune system.

“This case was not caught early,” said Mark Levine, a City Council member who represents the area and who had been briefed by the city. He added that the person had died in the last week.

In total, 18 people have been sickened in the area. City officials said the cluster of cases was found between 145th and 165th streets.

Nine people have been released from hospitals, according to Demetre Daskalakis, the deputy commissioner of disease control for the city. Seven are still in the hospital; one was treated as an outpatient.

Typically, Legionnaires’ disease is treatable with antibiotics.

The disease is a serious type of pneumonia commonly caused by breathing in water vapor that contains Legionella bacteria. The disease is more common in the summer, because the bacteria thrive in warm water, which can be found in cooling towers, hot water tanks and condensers in large air-conditioning units.

The city has tested 20 cooling towers but has not yet identified the source of the bacteria, Dr. Daskalakis said, because cell cultures taken from both people and cooling towers take time to grow. He added that the city had treated the water in the cooling towers where there was evidence of bacteria present.

Residents of Upper Manhattan who experience flulike symptoms should immediately see a doctor, Dr. Daskalakis said.

“We’re watching carefully,” he explained, “but we’re optimistic that the source from this has been addressed.”

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