A deadly outbreak of Legionnaires disease has sprung up in the Bronx, New York. As of Friday morning (July 31st) there have already been two deaths and 46 suspected cases of the bacterial infection.
Legionnaires , caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila, is not spread person to person, but instead through contact with an infected water supply. However, which specific water source caused this outbreak is currently unknown. The commissioner of the New York City health department, Dr. Mary Bassett, said "The New York City water supply does not pose a risk, so people should continue to feel confident in drinking tap water to stay cool during this period of hot weather."
The disease generally causes a respiratory infection which is characterized by symptoms that include fever, chills and a cough. It is generally treatable when diagnosed correctly and treated early in its course, and most people recover. However it is fatal in 5-30% of people who contract it when treatment is instituted after the infection has progressed.
There was an infamous outbreak of Legionnaire s disease in 1976 among members of the American Legion (hence the name) who attended a conference in Philadelphia. The culprit in that outbreak was a contamination of the water cooling tower of the hotel s air conditioner system.
Anyone who is feeling symptomatic should seek immediate medical attention, early treatment is the best way to ensure survival.