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Seven Deaths Now Linked to Legionnaires’ Disease, City Says

(DNAINFO) Gwynne Hogan and Eddie Small — Seven people have now died from Legionnaires’ disease and 81 people have contracted the deadly illness, the city said Monday afternoon.

That’s up from Sunday’s count of four deaths and 71 reported cases.

The additional deaths occurred earlier but were only recently reported to the city, officials said.

Residents, hoping for information about the lethal disease, lined up around the block to get into a town hall meeting Monday evening at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Many were turned away at the door.

At that meeting, the city’s Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett urged residents to see a doctor if they showed any signs of the disease.

Common symptoms of Legionnaires’ include fever, cough, chills and muscle aches.

Officials at the meeting said they expected the number of cases to continue to climb because people can develop symptoms up to 10 days after original exposure to the bacteria.

In total, 64 people have been hospitalized and 28 have since been discharged, city officials said.

Officials attributed the rapid spread of the disease to five cooling towers on Bronx buildings including Lincoln Hospital, Concourse Plaza, the Opera House Hotel, a Verizon office building and Streamline Plastic Co.

“We have found all of the cooling towers that we can, tested them all, treated them all,” said Basset, though the city may still launch a “wide-scale cleaning and disinfection program,” according to fliers handed out at the meeting.

The disease can be caught by breathing in the bacteria that can be spread inside a building’s air system or outside in open air in the vicinity of a contaminated cooling tower. It cannot be spread person-to-person.

The bacteria in those cooling towers has since been eradicated and will be checked up on periodically, the city said.

The outbreak began on July 10.

Source: Seven Deaths Now Linked to Legionnaires’ Disease, City Says – Mott Haven – DNAinfo.com New York