Legionnaires’ disease in South Bronx claims lives of 7

Seven people have now fallen victim to Legionnaires' disease among cases in the South Bronx. To address concerns of city residents about spread of the disease, politicians and health officials organized a meeting in a town hall.

Arrival of city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett resulted in a frisson of excitement running through the crowd. She began her speech with latest numbers related to the disease. The toll was four deaths among 71 cases in the previous update.

She added, "There are still people out there who will be getting sick, not because the source is still there, but because it takes time for the symptoms to show themselves".

One contracts Legionnaires' disease by breathing in bacteria-contaminated mist or vapor. It does not spread from person to person. The town hall meeting at the Bronx Museum was jam-packed with residents and dozens of more residents hunkered down outside the sidewalk waiting in vain to get inside.

Bassett told the residents that the contamination was detected in cooling towers. It was found only in commercial buildings' ventilation or air-conditioning systems, and not in the wooden water tanks that store water for residential buildings.

She said the residents must not worry about the quality of drinking and bathing water. This year has so far recorded 2,400 cases nationwide. A hotel and in equipment at Lincoln Hospital was last week confirmed to have the legionella bacteria.