New York City's second outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in less than a year claimed its first victim, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, another outbreak of the respiratory ailment killed 12 and sickened more than 120 people, the spokesperson said. Both bouts were concentrated in lower-income areas of the South Bronx. Nearly all those affected have been elderly people with underlying health problems.
The current outbreak has sickened 13 people, including the person who died. Of those affected, 11 have been hospitalized and one has been discharged. No new cases have been reported after Sep. 21.
The disease is an atypical form of pneumonia and produces symptoms that can include headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion, and diarrhea.
Legionella, the bacterium that causes the disease, was found in 15 cooling towers in the Bronx, most of them belonging to hospitals and educational institutions during the last outbreak. All affected towers are currently being treated. Health officials continue to look for more affected towers.
Legionnaires' disease is easily treatable with antibiotics and is endemic to New York City, where 200 to 300 cases are reported every year. The disease cannot be transmitted from person to person and does not affect drinking water tanks or the city's water supply.