As the number of people who have been diagnosed with legionnaire’s disease grows, 100 at last count, with 10 people having died, should New Yorkers generally be worried? Legionnaire’s disease is a respiratory disease which can lead to pneumonia. It needs to be treated seriously and is of most danger to the very young, the very old and those with other medical conditions that make them more susceptible to infection. Most people become infected when they inhale microscopic water droplets containng the legionella bacteria from air condtioning units or even from tap water.
This outbreak in NYC is confined at the moment to the South Bronx in NYC and is caused by contaminated water in 5 cooling towers on separate buildings, all of which have now been decontaminated. All cooling towers in the area are being decontaminated as well as a precaution, but if you work or live near one in the South Bronx area, seek reassurance about the level of risk you face from relevant people such as building and workplace supervisors who should be very aware of the state of the cooling tower on their buildings and whether it constitutes a risk.
Legionnaire’s disease is not fatal when it is treated with antibiotics and the people who have already caught the disease are being treated in hospital and progressively discharged when they are well again. So anyone working in the South Bronx area and who gets flu or cold like symptoms should immediately seek medical assistance so you can be treated appropriately for whatever has caused the infection you have.