Death count in NYC Legionnaires' disease outbreak grows

In New York City, 81 people have fallen ill with Legionnaires' disease, and seven of them have died. However, officials have located the source of the outbreak, according to an NBC News report.

The city's health department warned residents in the city's South Bronx neighborhood about the outbreak July 29, when the case count sat at 31 and just two people had died.

Officials have traced the cause of the outbreak to air conditioning cooling towers on five buildings, according to the report. "We've been working actively to decontaminate the five towers that have been identified to have this bacteria in them," Jay Varma, MD, deputy commissioner for disease control, told NBC News.

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The bacteria Dr. Varma referred to is Legionella, which is found naturally in the environment, usually in warm water. People become ill when they breathe in a mist or vapor that is contaminated with the bacteria.

The city is treating the cooling towers by applying chemicals and physically scrubbing them. The process takes at least 24 hours, according to NBC News.

More articles on Legionnaires' disease:
10 latest disease outbreaks in the US
2 dead from Legionnaires' disease in NYC: 4 things to know
Legionella found in West Palm Beach VA for second time this year

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