Legionnaires' Cases Reported in Washington Heights Cooling Towers Have Been Linked to the Disease

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Updated July 17, 2018

The New York City Department of Health announced last week that it is investigating several cases of Legionnaires' disease in the lower Washington Heights section of Manhattan. As of July 17, there was one death from the disease out of the 18 people diagnosed, according to health officials, CBS2 News reported. 

“The Health Department has identified a cluster of Legionnaires disease in the Lower Washington Heights area,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a press statement. “While most people exposed to Legionella don’t get sick, individuals ages 50 and above, especially those who smoke and have chronic lung conditions, are at a higher risk. This disease is very treatable with antibiotics. I encourage anyone with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease to seek care early.”

The department said it was testing every cooling tower system in that part of Washington Heights.

Legionnaires' is a form of pneumonia, said the department, caused by the Legionella bacteria, which grow in warm water. People become ill after breathing in water vapor that contains the bacteria. It is not contagious, and therefore does not transmit from person to person.

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