Sick with Legionnaires’?
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New York City health officials said Legionella was detected in a Bronx hospital, making the borough the second in NYC dealing with the dangerous bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.
Upper Manhattan has had its hands full the past month with a Legionnaires’ disease cluster that has sickened 27 residents of Washington Heights and Hamilton Heights. One victim has died.
Routine testing of the potable water supply at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx returned elevated levels of Legionella. Jacobi Medical Center is approximately 7 miles from Washington Heights.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia (lung infection), which is treatable with antibiotics when diagnosed early. It is not contagious and passed from person to person.
Bronx hospital: no illnesses reported
There have been no reports of Legionnaires’ disease at Jacobi Medical Center, and NYC Health + Hospitals officials said the risk to patients, employees and visitors to the hospital is very low. Officials also said there is zero risk to the surrounding community.
“Per guidance from the New York State Department of Health, which regulates hospitals, we have taken steps to prevent any impact on our patients, staff, or visitors,” said a statement by NYC Health + Hospitals, which is the largest public health-care system in the United States. “Safety is always our highest priority.”
Implementation of water restrictions at Jacobi Medical Center – a 450-bed hospital on Pelham Parkway South in Morris Park – includes supplying bottled water for patients, employees and visitors. In addition, bath wipes are being used by patients for daily hygiene until new water filters are installed in the showers.
Bronx hospital: weeks after cluster news
The detection of Legionella at Jacobi Medical Center comes weeks after the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease illnesses affecting two Manhattan neighborhoods: southern Washington Heights and northern Hamilton Heights.
The disease cluster is not connected in any way to the discovery of the Legionella at Jacobi Medical Center, officials said.
Bronx hospital: outbreak killed 12 in 2015
The largest Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York City history occurred in 2015. Contaminated cooling towers were blamed for producing a Legionnaires’ outbreak in which 12 people died and more than 120 others were sickened in the South Bronx.
Every year, between 200 and 500 people are diagnosed with the disease in New York City, officials said.
Bronx hospital: Legionnaires’ info
An estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur annually in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. However, only 5,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are recorded because of its nonspecific signs and symptoms.
Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (vapor or mist). The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments.
Legionnaires’ outbreaks and clusters have been linked to numerous sources, including:
- cooling towers of air conditioning systems
- large plumbing systems
- water systems, like those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
- hot-water heaters and tanks
- faucets and showers
- swimming pools, whirlpools, and hot tubs
- physical-therapy equipment
- mist machines and hand-held sprayers
- decorative fountains.
Legionnaires’ disease is similar to other types of pneumonia, and its symptoms can resemble those of flu. Symptoms can include:
- shortness of breath, also known as dyspnea
- high fever
- muscle pains
- severe headaches
- gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc.).