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Health officials investigate legionnaire disease outbreak group in Lower Washington Heights



What you should know

  • City officials are investigating a group of legionaries in Manhattan after eight people were diagnosed with the disease

  • The outbreak group is in Lower Washington Heights and mostly involves people over 50, health department officials say

  • The city is "actively investigating" the cases; People can make the disease breathe in the water vapor that contains Legionella bacteria

City authorities are investigating a group of Legionnaires' disease in Upper Manhattan after eight people have been diagnosed with the disease in the last seven days.

cluster is located in Lower Washington Heights and mostly involves people over 50, although there are some under 40s, officials from the Department of Health announced Wednesday.

All the people diagnosed with legionaries have been hospitalized and one has already been discharged. There are no deaths associated with this group.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella that tends to grow in warm water.

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Cooling towers, hot tubs, whirlpools, humidifiers, hot water tanks and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems may be some of the sources of the plumbing system where conditions are favorable Legionella Growth .

According to the authorities, those who breathe the water vapor that contains the bacteria can contract the disease.

Symptoms resemble other types of pneumonia and may include fever, chills, muscle aches and cough.

According to the city's Department of Health, most cases of Legionnaires' disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as cooling towers, spas hydromassage, hot tub s, humidifiers, hot water tanks and evaporative condensers of large air conditioning systems.

Legionnaire's disease is not contagious and can be easily treated with antibiotics when detected early. Although the disease can not be spread from person to person, the risk of contracting Legionnaires' disease is higher for people over 50, cigarette smokers and people with chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems, officials say.

"The Department of Health has identified a group of Legionnaires' diseases in the Lower Washington Heights area," Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement. "While most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, people 50 and older, especially those who smoke and have chronic lung diseases, are at a higher risk. I encourage all people with symptoms of Legionnaires' disease to seek early care. "

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The City Health Department says it is "actively investigating" cases as well as sampling and testing water from all cooling systems in the area.

A community meeting organized by the health department will be held at Saint Luke's AME, at 1872 Amsterdam Ave., on Thursday at 7 pm

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