The Bronx continues to be plagued by Legionnaires' Disease as city health authorities announced on Monday, Aug. 3 that the seventh mortality due to the infection has been confirmed.

The announcement was made at a public town hall meeting at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, where concerned citizen flocked and fell in line to hear the latest updates regarding the outbreak. According to the health officials, the seven individuals who succumb to the disease were older adults and had other comorbidities.

Reports say that more than 80 individuals have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, which is a bacterial infection caused by the Legionella bacteria. The said pathogen usually targets the lungs as its mode of transmission is mainly through inhalation. Out of the total number of cases, 64 have been admitted for hospital care and 28 of them have been cleared for discharge. The local outbreak is said to have been initiated by contaminated equipment from a hospital and in a Bronx hotel. Across the US, 2,400 cases of Legionnaires' disease have already been recorded.

"We are taking this very seriously," said Dr. Mary Bassett, the city's health commissioner, to the attendees of the town hall meeting.

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has also expressed high concerns regarding the outbreak as he announced that new laws will soon be presented to amplify inspection protocols and heighten sanction rules for business owners, who will be found to have buildings and equipment that carry the Legionella bacteria. According to de Blasio, the outbreaks have become too common over the last decade. The city officials will now look into devising plans that focus on preventive measures to halt future outbreaks, rather than formulating laws that only center on interventions that should be performed as the disease comes, he adds.

Legionnaires' disease cannot be contracted through direct person-to-person contact, iterates Dr. Jay Varma, Department of Health deputy commissioner for disease control. With this, he said that most people are not at risk and that Legionnaires' disease can still be classified as "rare." "We expect the case count to rise over the next several days because it reflects what has happened in the past," said Varma. But the health team is strongly convinced that they have done the most comprehensive action in a timely manner to decrease the illness risks hence, they are looking forward to seeing the number of cases elevate at first, then plummet back down again, he added.

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