The number of deaths in the New York City Legionnaires’ disease outbreak is up to four. Seventy-one cases of the flu-like disease have been reported since mid-July in the South Bronx, up from 31 on Thursday, the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Sunday. Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory bacterial infection usually spread through mist that comes from a water source, such as cooling towers, air conditioning or showers. It is not transmitted person to person. Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills and a cough. Most people recover, but between 5% to 30% of those who get the disease die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The four victims were all older adults with additional underlying medical problems, the city said. Fifty-five individuals are hospitalized.
The outbreak has so far been traced to five buildings in the south Bronx, including a hospital and a hotel. Bronx borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is calling for a city-wide inspection system that would regularly test the water infrastructure of all buildings. People living with untreated HIV are considered to be at high risk of contracting Legionnaires.