8 Cases Of Legionnaires' Disease Confirmed In Washington Heights

July 12, 2018 - 6:30 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases in Washington Heights is being investogated by tThe New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The department said Wednesday that eight people in the neighborhood have been stricken with Legionnaires’ in the past week. The department said but one of the patients went to hospitals, and one has already been released, CBS2 reported.

Those who were infected ranged from the ages of 40 to over 80, and the department said most of those infected were 50 or older, CBS2 reported.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, the source of the latest Legionnaires’ cluster was not known Wednesday evening. But Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said it is likely from large rooftop air conditioning units known as cooling towers.

“We see more cases in the summer months, and when we see a cluster of cases which share a geography and nothing else that we can tell, we worry about cooling towers,” Bassett said.

That makes pinpointing the source of the cluster difficult. Air mist from a contaminated cooling tower can travel anywhere around the neighborhood and infect people who live nearby.

While all the towers in the area being tested by officials, Dr. Bassett advised anyone who lives in lower Washington Heights and upper Hamilton Heights to watch out for flulike symptoms.

“Fever, body aches, cough, shortness of breath – symptoms that people can confuse with the flu,” Bassett said. “But if you live in Lower Washington Heights and you have these symptoms and you are over 50, in particular, we want you to seek medical attention.”

Bassett said the disease is more common in the summer months, and emphasized to residents of the area that it is not transmitted from person to person.

A community meeting on the Legionnaires’ outbreak will be held on Thursday night at St. Luke’s AME Church, at 1872 Amsterdam Ave. at 153rd Street.