Legionnaires’ Disease Claims Seven Lives in NY

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Seven New Yorkers have died due to the recent Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the South Bronx. The victims thus far have been older adults who also suffered from other medical issues. In total, 81 possible cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported, with 64 people being hospitalized.

Legionnaires’ disease (also called legionellosis or Legion fever) is a form of atypical pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. It is a flu-like disease commonly spread by water mist and/or soil contaminated with the Legionella bacteria. Infected sources may include cooling towers, air conditioning or showers, which create water mist. Importantly, it is not airborne so Legionnaires’ disease is not transmitted from person to person.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease usually include fever, chills, and a cough, which may be dry or may produce sputum. Additionally, some people may suffer muscle aches, headache, drowsiness, loss of appetite, loss of coordination, diarrhea, vomiting and neurological symptoms, including confusion and impaired cognition.

Although most who contract the disease ultimately fully recover, according to the CDC Legionnaires’ can kill 5% to 30% of persons infected. The Health Department is testing water from potential sources of contamination in the area of those infected. Cooling towers of five buildings including the Opera House Hotel and the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, have tested positive for traces of the legionella bacteria. Environmental cleaning and corrective measures have been completed in the five infected locations. The New York City water supply does not pose a risk of infection.

An estimated 8,000 to 18,000 hospitalized cases of Legionnaires’ disease occurs in the US every year.

The name stems from an outbreak in July 1976 at the convention of the American Legion at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. The causative agent, a previously unknown strain of bacteria, was later named Legionella.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to Legionnaires’ disease the attorneys at Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin LLP are here to protect your rights. Please contact us today online or by telephone at (212) 684-1880. We have handled and won many favorable settlements and jury awards in similar cases for our clients. We will handle you case from start to finish.

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