3rd person dies from Legionnaires' disease; total number of cases rises to 57 in South Bronx

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Friday, July 31, 2015
Officials continue to look for source of Legionnaires' disease
Dray Clark reporting live

SOUTH BRONX, N.Y. -- A third death and 11 more cases of Legionnaire's disease were reported Friday in the South Bronx section of New York City.[br /][br /]Health officials said the third death involved a person with underlying medical problems. There are now 57 confirmed cases of the disease since July 10. This is the second time the number of cases has risen this week since health officials announced the outbreak.[br /][Ads /][br /]A third building has also tested positive for Legionella bacteria Friday - the Opera House Hotel in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx. The general manager of the hotel, Julio Vargas, issued this statement Friday:[br /][br /][i]"We have been informed that there were traces of legionella in the cooling tower. We have taken all necessary precautions. We have called a water treatment company to disinfect the cooling tower. This is isolated to that area and is not affecting any other areas of the hotel. We are taking all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of our guests and staff and are taking all recommendations from the Health Department of New York."[/i][br /][br /]Two other building cooling systems tested positive Thursday -- the Concourse Plaza Mall on 161st Street and Lincoln Hospital.[br /][br /]Officials said no one at the hospital was identified as contracting the disease, only in the neighborhoods around the hospital.[br /][br /]The two prior deaths connected with Legionnaires' disease were a man and woman in their 50s.[br /][br /]The four neighborhoods where the outbreak is most prominent are: Highbridge, Morrisania, Mott Haven and Hunts Point.[br /][br /]Health officials said they identified 20 more cooling towers they want to test in the area[/url] to see if they're the source of the bacteria. They released these facts Friday about the buildings they've inspected so far:[br /][br /]- 22 buildings visited - only 17 determined to have cooling towers[br /]- All 17 have been tested with results back for 11 - remaining 6 expected Friday evening[br /]- 3 buildings have tested positive[br /]- The Opera House Hotel is 3rd location to test positively for Legionella[br /]- Opera House Hotel quickly began remediation efforts Friday afternoon[br /]- None of the 57 reported cases have stayed at the Opera House Hotel as guests[br /]- Lincoln Hospital remediation is completed[br /]- Concourse Plaza remediation is ongoing[br /][br /]A town hall forum is scheduled for Monday with Council Member Vanessa Gibson for residents in the area.[br /][br /]"During the course of our actions fighting the Legionnaire's Disease outbreak in The Bronx, it has been revealed that there is no inspection mechanism for coolant systems, rooftop water tanks and other standing water infrastructure that could be a breeding ground for this disease and others. The city must create a new inspection system for these systems, just as we inspect other critical systems such as elevators," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said. "My office will work with our City Council members and the appropriate agencies to craft new legislation that would deal with this issue in the coming days."[br /][br /]Legionnaires' disease is dispersed through vapor or mist that's ingested. The disease cannot be spread from person to person.[br /][br /]There have not been any concerns about the water supply, health officials said, but it is being tested in the affected areas as a precaution.[br /][br /]Symptoms of the disease include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. These usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria.[br /][br /]Stay with abc7NY for updates on this developing story.