NYC Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot has confirmed 16 cases of Legionnaires’ disease associated with the recently reported Lower Washington Heights cluster. One person, who had previous underlying health conditions, has died from the disease.
Legionnaire’s disease is often spread through bacteria that can be present in cooling towers, and people may contract the disease by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria. Landlords are responsible to remediate conditions that contribute to the presence of the bacteria.
“New York City has the strongest enforcement in the nation regarding cooling towers, and we continue to take very aggressive steps to respond to this cluster and prevent more people from becoming sick,” said a Health Department press release. “The Health Department has investigated every cooling tower in the area, ordering landlords to remediate where necessary and has provided information to residents.”
Signs of the disease include flu-like symptoms that can include fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious, and the risk of contracting it is very low. It is easily treatable with antibiotics.