8 hospitalized in NYC as health officials probe second Legionnaires' cluster

October 05, 2018 - 5:06 pm

NEW YORK (AP/1010 WINS) -- New York City health officials are investigating a second cluster of Legionnaires' disease in the same Manhattan neighborhood where more than 20 people were infected with the disease in July.

The Health Department said Friday that eight people in lower Washington Heights have been hospitalized for Legionnaires' in the past five days.

None of them has died, and one has already been discharged. The July Legionnaires' cluster was blamed for one death.

Ages of the individuals range from under 40 to over 80, with the majority of cases over 50 years of age, the Health Department said. 

In a statement, acting Health Department commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said the department is "taking aggressive steps to ensure the safety of residents."

Barbot said all the victims live in several buildings in lower Washington Heights and that health officials have already inspected 20 cooling towers in the area. 

Barbot added: "We have ordered the Sugar Hill development, which operates the cooling tower identified as the source of the July cluster and had cleaned and disinfected at that time, to clean and disinfect again given its proximity to new cases. Although the risk is very low, we urge residents and people who work in the area to take precautions. Legionnaires‘ disease is not contagious and can be treated with common antibiotics if caught early. Anyone with flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever or difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately."

Symptoms of  Legionnaires' disease are similar to pneumonia and people who live in the area and have symptoms are encouraged to go to a doctor.