NEW YORK, Aug. 10 (UPI) — The death toll in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in New York City has risen to 12 and the total number of confirmed cases of the water-borne bacteria stands at 113, health officials said Monday.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s latest update says two new deaths have been reported since last week in an outbreak that started in early July.
The Department said all those who died were adults with underlying medical conditions. So far, 76 people have been treated and discharged from hospitals.
The outbreak has been traced back to contaminated water in cooling towers in the city. Five tested positive for the Legionella bacteria. The towers at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, the Concourse Plaza Mall, the Opera House Hotel, a Verizon office building, and the Streamline Plastic Co. were all disinfected and are expected to be tested again for the bacteria.
On Thursday, the New York City Health Commissioner issued an order for all building owners in the city to inspect and disinfect any cooling towers they may have. The order said the city is developing a registry of all cooling towers and evaporative condensers in order to make sure they are properly maintained and cleaned.
Legionnaires’ disease can cause chills, fever and a cough, as well as an upset stomach and neurological effects, but largely causes minor symptoms. However, the disease can be dangerous for those with weakened immune systems.
Stephen Feller contributed to this report.