New York Legionnaire's outbreak: Fourth person dies of disease in the Bronx

At least 22 buildings have tested positive for the disease in the Bronx

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An outbreak of the deadly Legionnaire’s disease has claimed a fourth life in the Bronx area of New York City.

At least 65 people have been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s since 10 July, according to city health officials who called the outbreak “unusual.”

Some 55 people have been hospitalised, but 20 of those have been released, health officials said.

The person who died has not yet been identified.

Officials investigating the outbreak found legionella bacteria in five of 22 buildings in the South Bronx area, including the Opera House Hotel, after it was found in hospital equipment, the Associated Press reported.

The Opera House hotel in the Bronx where legionella bacteria was discovered

The cases have been reported primarily in High Bridge, Morrisania, Hunts Point and Mott Haven, the Health Department told NBC New York.

There have been 2,400 cases of the disease across the US this year.

The number of cases is now five times that recorded during the last wave in December 2014, when 12 people in the Bronx fell ill.

Legionnaire’s is a serious lung infection caused by the legionella bacteria. Symptoms include muscle pain, high temperatures, chills, tiredness, changes to a person’s mental state including confusion, and mild headaches.


When the bacteria is inside the lungs, sufferers can show the symptoms of pneumonia, including a persistent cough, shortness of breath, and chest pains, according to the NHS.

As the disease is water-borne, it spreads when a person breathes in contaminated droplets rather than from person to person.

Legionella bacteria magnified by 5000 per cent (Image: Public domain)

It is therefore found in water including ponds, or air conditioning systems. Buildings such as hotels, hospitals, museums and office blocks are more likely to harbour the disease as they often have large, complex water supply systems through which the bacteria can spread.

Additional reporting by Reuters