Legionnaires' disease, an often fatal bacterial pneumonia, has been spreading through the Bronx for over a week now. As of today (August 13th), 119 people have been infected with the bacterium and 12 have died, although city officials maintain there have been no cases since August 3rd.
As we described last week, Legionnaires' cannot spread person to person and all new cases must be contracted through a primary water infected site. Historically, air-conditioners have been a common primary source of infection outbreak. In the NYC outbreak, officials are focusing on cooling towers in the Bronx. Currently, 14 sites in the Bronx and 6 other city sites have tested positive for Legionnaires' disease. The mayor has ordered all sites in the Bronx to be disinfected regardless of whether the bacteria was detected or not.
New York is not the only place where Legionnaires' is making headlines. A self-standing cooling tower at a GlaxoSmithKlein plant in North Carolina has tested positive for the bacteria during a routine test. The plant, which makes inhalers, has been closed due to precautionary reasons. Officials say that the cooling tower does not make contact with spaces that are used in manufacturing. The FDA says they are aware of the problem and gathering information currently.