The New York City Health Department is investigating an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease in two zipcodes in Central Harlem. Nine people, seven of whom are 50-years-old or older, have contracted the disease and been hospitalized. There have been no deaths.
Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious, but spreads through breathing in water vapor that’s carrying a bacteria that grows in warm water. The Health Department is testing water samples and all cooling tower systems in the area.
Symptoms include cough, chills, body aches, fever or difficulty breathing. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, they should get tested for legionnaires’ disease and the coronavirus.
Legionnaires’ disease can be treated with antibiotics.
“Anyone with flu-like symptoms should seek care early and – if they live in the affected area – ensure they are evaluated for Legionnaires’ disease,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. “Most people exposed to Legionella don’t get sick but there are people at higher risk, such as those 50 and older, especially those who smoke and have chronic lung conditions.”