Health officials revealed that more people in New York City are diagnosed with Legionnaires' Disease in what is being suspected as a new cluster of cases.
Seven people living or working in the Bronx have so far been hospitalized, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
It appears that the new incidences of the disease are not associated with the outbreak that earlier occurred in the city. The outbreak, which sickened 120 individuals in the South Bronx, was the largest in the history of New York City and was traced to a cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel that was found to be contaminated with Legionella, which causes the disease.
The outbreak has prompted the adoption of measures for preventing the disease such as requiring building owners to have quarterly inspections of their cooling towers and to get certified that the towers have been inspected and cleaned.
"The new legislation made it possible for us to immediately identify all the buildings in the surrounding area that had cooling towers, and to send teams out on Saturday and Sunday to sample those cooling towers," Jay Varma, of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said.
Investigations into the new cluster are currently ongoing with experts suspecting that it could be attributed to an outdoor source such as an air-conditioner cooling tower. Scientists have already taken samples from the cooling towers in Morris Park to conduct tests for the bacteria.
"We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaires' disease cases in the South Bronx," said Health Commissioner Mary Bassett. "We are conducting a swift investigation to determine the source of the outbreak and prevent future cases. I urge anyone with symptoms to seek medical attention right away."
Healthcare providers in the area have likewise been advised to watch out for patients who show symptoms of the disease and to carry out the necessary tests on these individuals.
The symptoms for the disease include chills, coughs, headaches, confusion, loss of appetite, diarrhea and breathing difficulties. The symptoms often show two to 10 days after exposure to the Legionella bacteria.
The disease does not spread from person to person but middle-aged and older individuals particularly those who smoke, those who suffer from chronic lung disease and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable.
Varma said that all of the new patients in the new cluster had underlying medical conditions.