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Legionella Petri plate

New York City health officials announced last night that seven people have died as a result of the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

According to Dr. Jay Varma, the deputy commissioner for disease control at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, people who live or work in the South Bronx could be at risk for contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

“It’s certainly possible and likely that there will be more cases of this disease identified over the next few days,” he said. “And those will be due to people who were exposed to this infection before the cleaning process began.”

However, not everyone will contract Legionnaires’ disease.

“It takes two things: it takes being exposed to a cooling tower that is generating this contaminated mist and it takes having some factor that makes you more susceptible to get pneumonia. So it’s very difficult to know who was exposed and who will get sick,” he said. “Our hope, of course, is that no one else becomes sick from this disease and of course we hope no one dies from it.”

So far the city has inspected 17 cooling towers in the area where all the cases have occurred and five tested positive for Legionella bacteria.  Those five were immediately cleaned after the discovery of Legionella.

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Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 3:00 pm

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