The city’s Health Department is investigating an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at Co-Op City in The Bronx, officials said Wednesday.
In the last 12 months, three people in three connected buildings at the residential complex that share a hot water supply have contracted the disease and elderly person died, said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Basset.
The other two individuals recovered and have been released from the hospital.
Basset would not say when the three contracted the disease, which is a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria found in water systems.
The Health Department said it is in the process of examining the water supply shared across the three affected buildings in the complex of 35 high-rises and has informed tenants of those buildings.
“We want people to be aware of the symptoms of Legionnaire’s so they will seek care early when the disease is best treated,” Basset said.
Symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease — which is not transmitted from person-to-person, but typically by the inhalation of a certain type of bacteria – include: cough, shortness of breath, fever, headaches, muscle aches, chest pain and even vomiting and diarrhea.
“Legionnaires is highly treatable but its best diagnosed when its diagnosed early,” Basset said, adding, “these are symptoms that some people might dismiss because they’re flu-like symptoms.”
Basset noted that the drinking water at the Co-Op City buildings is safe, but said for precautionary reasons tenants “should not take showers” while the agency investigates.
“The main message about reducing your risk is to avoid water mists,” said Basset, who added that it’s fine to take baths and wash dishes.
According to the DOH, there are between 350 and 450 cases of Legionnaire’s disease in the city every year.
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