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2 die in New York legionella outbreak

Two people have died in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York. Forty-six cases of the flu-like disease have been reported since mid-July in the South Bronx, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.

Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory bacterial infection usually spread through mist that comes from a water source, such as cooling towers, air conditioning or showers. It is not transmitted person to person. Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills and a cough. Most people recover, but between 5% to 30% of those who get the disease die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“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,” said Dr. Mary Bassett, commissioner of the New York City health department.

The health department’s probe includes testing water from potential sources in the area.

“The New York City water supply does not pose a risk, so people should continue to feel confident in drinking tap water to stay cool during this period of hot weather,” said Bassett.

At a City Hall press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that anyone with symptoms should get tested, but he said that most New Yorkers are not at risk.

“We will continue to be vigilant on all fronts, ensuring the health and safety of New Yorkers by both addressing Legionnaires’ at its source, and ensuring affected New Yorkers who need it are getting proper treatment,” he said.

An outbreak of the disease killed two people at a hotel in downtown Chicago in 2012.

An estimated 8,000 to 18,000 hospitalized cases of Legionnaires’ disease occurs each year in the United States.

An outbreak of the disease in Philadelphia in 1976, largely among people attending a convention of the American Legion, led to its name.

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