5 Things You Need To Know About Legionnaires’ Disease

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawmakers are rushing to draft New York’s first regulations for a type of heavy-duty rooftop air conditioning equipment amid suspicions that bacteria-laden mist from these units could be the cause of the deadliest known outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the city’s history.

Seven people have died and at least 86 have fallen ill in the South Bronx since July 10. People can get exposed to Legionella bacteria from a variety of sources, but cooling towers have been implicated in past outbreaks. Testing found five contaminated units in the part of the city where people are getting sick.

Five things to know about the outbreak:


Between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S. each year with Legionnaires’ disease, which is a type of pneumonia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of cases reported to the CDC each year has been rising, roughly doubling between 2000 and 2009.

A study in New York City found 1,449 cases and 185 deaths between 2002 and 2011. That’s an average of around 19 deaths per year.

“Let’s be clear that Legionnaires’ disease has been a persistent health problem for years. A problem all over the country. A problem that has been slowing and steadily growing all over the country,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.


The bacteria can thrive in warm water and become especially dangerous when the water is turned into a mist that can be inhaled.

Medical investigators have linked past outbreaks to public fountains, air conditioning systems, spas, showers and even the misters than keep fruit moist in supermarkets. In the case of New York City’s outbreak, the infected people might have simply been walking by on the street when they inhaled the mist.

Investigators are still trying to determine which, if any, —> Read More