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NYC Declares Legionnaires' Outbreak Over

Editor's note: This story was updated Aug. 25, 2015, with new case numbers, officials declaring the outbreak over, and the source of the outbreak identified.

Aug. 4, 2015 -- Twelve people died and 124 were sickened in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in South Bronx, N.Y., according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella pneumophila. People are usually exposed by breathing in mist or vapor in the air that contains the bacteria. The disease isn't contagious, and it typically doesn’t cause large outbreaks.

Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, aches, and chills. People 50 and over face a higher risk of getting sick. The disease can be fatal, especially in older people with weakened immune systems.

The 12 people who died were older adults who had other health problems, New York health officials said.

The department declared the outbreak over Aug. 20 and identified a cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel as the source of the outbreak.

City officials pinpointed the source after testing 17 cooling towers located on buildings. Tests showed that five of them had the bacteria, including those at Lincoln Hospital and the hotel. Bacteria in the hotel's cooling tower matched the strain found in patients, health officials said. 

The bacteria was removed from the towers, and New York City’s water supply and other water features, such as pools, remain safe, the health department said.

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