Legionnaires' Outbreak ‘Tapering Off,' Mayor Says

The Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the south Bronx that has killed 10 people has largely been contained, though five more buildings have tested positive for the bacteria, New York City officials said Saturday.

"The good news is that this outbreak is tapering off," Mayor de Blasio said during an afternoon news conference. There have been no new cases in the past four days, he added.

Teams from both the city and the state scrambled to identify which buildings in the south Bronx have the towers; prior to this outbreak, no city records were kept as to which buildings had cooling towers. De Blasio said a canvassing of the target area identified 161 buildings that appeared to have cooling towers.

More than half of those towers were to be inspected and disinfected Saturday. The remainder would be inspected Sunday. Inspectors found that 26 buildings on the list had no cooling towers.

The disease has affected 108 people to date, the mayor said. Ninety-four people have been hospitalized and of those, 76 have been treated and discharged, he said.

Although five new sites have tested positive for the bacteria, there is no indication that anyone contracted the disease in any of them, de Blasio said. The source of the outbreak appears to be one of the five originally identified buildings, all of which have been disinfected, he said.

The mayor said one question remains unanswered: "We don't know why it originated."

Gov. Cuomo dispatched more than 100 trained officials to the Bronx Saturday to test for Legionella bacteria in cooling towers.

"Today we're putting boots on the ground to safeguard the public health and bolster the confidence of a hard-hit community," Cuomo said. "We have one simple message for the people of the Bronx: we are here to help.”

In most cases, people are exposed to the Legionella bacteria by inhaling contaminated aerosols from cooling towers, hot tubs, showers and faucets or drinking water.

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