Legionnaires’ disease has claimed a fourth victim in the Bronx. The fourth fatality was announced by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Saturday.
The total number of cases has risen to 65, from 57 as of Friday, and has become the largest outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease New York City has seen in at least three years.
The increasing number of Legionnaires’ cases has created a sense of anxiety among Bronx residents on sidewalks and at shopping malls. Last week, it was reported that the Concourse Plaza in South Bronx had tested positive for Legionella bacteria. As of Saturday, a total of five cooling towers have been discovered to be contaminated with the bacteria.
The five buildings that tested positive for Legionella so far are:
- Concourse Plaza
- A Verizon office building
- Streamline Plastics Company
- The Opera House Hotel
- Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center
According to an article from the NY Times, “City officials assured New Yorkers on Saturday that the rising number of casualties reflect the incubation period of the disease, which can be as long as 10 days, rather than any spread of the contaminants. They said that the four people who died were all older and had pre-existing medical conditions, and that the tap water was safe.”
Dr. Jay Varma, deputy commissioner at the Department of Health said “We expect the case count to rise over the next several days because it reflects what has happened in the past, but we are also confident we have done the most intensive, immediate work to cut off any risk, so we anticipate the number of cases will first rise, then fall again.”
Most of New York City’s cases of Legionnaires’ disease last year were concentrated in the Bronx and Brooklyn, the boroughs with the highest percentages of people living below the poverty line. As a result, there is an increased feeling that the city has not been active enough in preventing the disease in poorer areas.
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