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Legionnaires' Disease

(Legionellosis)

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What is Legionnaires' disease?

Legionnaires’ disease (or Legionellosis) is a type of pneumonia. It is caused by a bacteria (Legionella) that grows in warm water.

Is the disease contagious?
No. Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from person to person. People only get sick by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria (for example, by inhaling contaminated mist from faucets, showers, whirlpools or cooling towers). People who are sick cannot make others sick.
Who is at risk?
Groups at high risk include people who are middle-aged or older−especially cigarette smokers−people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs).
What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease?
Symptoms resemble other types of pneumonia and can include fever, chills, muscle aches and cough. Some people may also have headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion or diarrhea.
What should I do if I think I have Legionnaires’ disease?
If you have symptoms such as fever, chills and cough, call a doctor and get checked for pneumonia. If you have a medical condition that affects your breathing, like emphysema, or if you are a smoker, ask your doctor about testing for Legionnaires’ disease.
What is the treatment for Legionnaires’ disease?
The disease is treated with antibiotics. Most people get better with early treatment, although they may need to be hospitalized. In rare cases, people may get very sick or even die from complications of the disease.
What is the situation in Co-Op City?
Twelve people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx since December 2014. Eight of the 12 cases are among residents of Co-Op City.

The Health Department found the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease in the cooling tower of Co-Op City’s power plant, but it is not yet known if this caused the outbreak. As a precaution, the power plant has been turned off, and the cooling tower is being carefully cleaned.

What is the Health Department doing about the recent cases in the Bronx?
The Health Department is interviewing all patients to find out if there are common sites of exposure (e.g., grocery stores, housing, cooling towers). The Department is also testing samples from possible exposure sites.

Health Department staff members are also working with community boards and other local groups to inform residents. The Department is letting healthcare providers know about the cases so that they can watch for symptoms.

Is it safe to drink New York City water?
Yes. City water is safe to drink for everyone. In Co-Op City, the water used in the cooling tower is separate from the drinking water.