An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease has infected at least 875 people throughout New York state as of late September. According to health officials, 128 cases were reported in the last three weeks of September alone, accounting for at least 37 percent of nationwide cases. The number of cases reported in New York state in the first nine months of 2018 was 110 percent higher than during the same period of 2016, and 16 percent higher than during the same period in 2017. Further spread of the disease is possible in the coming weeks.
Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by a bacterial infection in lungs that is contracted by breathing contaminated water vapor or dust (e.g. via air conditioners). It does not spread person to person. It is most likely to affect the middle-aged or the elderly, particularly those with a history of smoking or chronic lung disease. The most common symptoms are cough, shortness of breath, high fever, headaches, and muscle pains. Legionnaires' disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Individuals in New York are advised to monitor updates to the situation and adhere to instructions issued by authorities. Individuals experiencing the above symptoms should seek immediate medical attention, especially if part of a demographic at high risk for the disease.