Two people have died and four others have been hospitalized in one Bronx, New York City neighborhood due to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, reports The New York Post.
At least 24 other cases have been confirmed.
According to the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the two people who died in the Highbridge community were older than 50 and had "risk factors for severe disease."
Health officials confirmed 10 cases on May 24 alone. In the space of a week, confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease climbed to 24.
The outbreak appears to have begun on May 3, and last week, the Health Department started a remediation process in four Highbridge cooling towers, which tested positive for Legionella pneumophila, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease, an often-serious form of pneumonia.
"All 24 cases of the disease had onset dates prior to [treatment of the cooling towers]," said Health Department representative Michael Lanza.
Legionnaires' disease can be caused when the Legionella bacteria multiply in warm water as from the plumbing systems in the cooling towers that were tested, as well as in hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and the evaporative condensers in large air-conditioning systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People can become ill if they breathe in small droplets of water or accidentally swallow water containing the bacteria if the water goes into their lungs.
Those who are most at risk are people aged 50 and older, cigarette smokers, and those who have either chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems.
Anyone in the affected area who is experiencing flu-like symptoms or difficulty breathing is urged to seek immediate medical attention, city health officials said.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.