WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — A person sickened by Legionnaires’ disease in Manhattan has died, health officials said Tuesday.
Eighteen cases total have been reported as part of a cluster in Washington Heights. Seven patients remain hospitalized as of Tuesday and additional cases could still be reported, health officials said.
The person who died has not yet been identified.
Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious. It is spread by breathing in water vapor containing the legionnella bacteria.
WHAT IS LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE?
Legionnaires’ disease is a treatable infection using antibiotics for pneumonia. Every year, there are between 200 and 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the city.
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella.
Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.
Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person. Groups at highest risk for Legionnaires’ disease include people who are middle-aged or older, especially cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs). Those with symptoms should call their doctor and ask about testing for Legionnaires’ disease.
Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria.
The Health Department is urging residents in the area with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches, to promptly seek medical attention. The Health Department has alerted health care providers in the area about this cluster.
Legionnaires’ disease can be deadly, but is treatable with antibiotics. Most people get better with early treatment, although they may need to be hospitalized. Others have died from complications of the disease.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.