One dead, more sickened in new Legionnaires’ cluster

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One dead, more sickened in new Legionnaires’ cluster

One person has died and a total of 13 have been sickened in a new cluster of Legionnaires’ cases in the Morris Park section of the Bronx.

Speaking in the Bronx on Wed., Sept. 30, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett explained that the current cluster is unrelated to the Legionnaires’ outbreak in the South Bronx this summer that killed 12 people and sickened at least 120.

New cases of legionnaires have been found in the Morris Park section of the Bronx

New cases of legionnaires have been found in the Morris Park section of the Bronx

The source of that outbreak, the largest for Legionnaires’ in the city’s history, was eventually traced to the cooling tower of the Opera House Hotel.

“This is a much more limited situation,” said de Blasio. “We’re going to be very vigilant, be very careful.”

I urge all New Yorkers to seek care immediately if they have flu-like symptoms

Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.

“The danger is not getting medical attention,” de Blasio added. “That is the singular danger.”

Heath Department officials initially announced on Mon., Sept. 28, that seven people had been sickened and the Department was investigating the cause. Two days later, the number of confirmed Legionnaires’ cases nearly doubled and the death was confirmed.

Bassett said that the first case in the most recent cluster was reported on September 21.

According to health officials, the 13 patients all lived or worked in Morris Park and ranged in age from 45 to 75.

All had underlying medical conditions, officials said.

Bassett stressed that those experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

“I urge all New Yorkers to seek care immediately if they have flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, headache or difficulty breathing,” she stated.

None of the sick patients live or work in the same building, prompting health officials to suspect an airborne transmission as the cause.

Bassett said that all 35 cooling towers in the Morris Park neighborhood were tested in attempt to identify the source of the illnesses.

Fifteen of the towers tested positive for Legionella bacteria, including those at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Lehman High School and Bronx Psychiatric Center, though all towers had recently been cleaned due to a Health Department order issued during this summer’s Legionnaires’ outbreak.

The sites testing positive were ordered by the Health Department to begin cleaning and disinfecting immediately.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said that his office would share the latest Legionnaires’ updates with the public through his website and social media.

“As we monitor this situation, we urge anyone who feels sick to visit their doctor or a hospital to get checked,” said Diaz. “It is too important to wait.”

The city plans to hold a town hall meeting on the evening of October 1 to address resident concerns.

— Gregg McQueen