July 5, 2023
NEW YORK, NY — New York’s public health professionals are warning about a potential rise in Legionnaires’ disease and an associated increase in hospital admissions this summer.
Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory illness, which may cause pneumonia, sepsis and even death. Early symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include shortness of breath, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and confusion. People with respiratory illnesses, compromised immune systems, a history of smoking or are more than 50 years old are most susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted when someone inhales water vapor that has been contaminated with Legionella. That is the type of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Legionella can be found in building-wide cooling systems, hot water tanks, fountains, hot tubs, large plumbing systems and decorative fountains.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene just released a Legionnaires’ disease advisory for New York’s doctors and hospitals, which warned them to be on the lookout for cases of Legionnaires’ disease. The agency stated that the greatest number of Legionnaires’ disease infections occur between the summer and early fall.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were close to 5,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported in New York State from 2018 to 2022. In 2020, New York State reported more cases than any other. Most of those were in New York City.
“It is imperative that anyone who experiences Legionnaires’ disease symptoms seek medical attention immediately so they can be tested and treated,” says Ronald Katter of The Katter Law Firm. “For the at-risk population, Legionnaires’ disease can be life-threatening.”