A number of cooling towers around the Bronx have been found to be the source of a Legionella outbreak. A number of buildings in the area tested positive for contamination, including a drug manufacturer (thankfully the medicine was not contaminated, at least according to the company representatives). Legionella is a waterborne pathogen that can grow in water towers and other water systems that are poorly kept since the conditions of such structures are ideal for harboring this microbe.
According to the New York Times article, as of August 16, this outbreak “has claimed 12 lives and sickened more than 120 people in the South Bronx” and is “the worst flare-up of the disease in the city’s history.” The towers are now being cleaned, which will hopefully stem the number of cases.
Legionella outbreaks are fairly common. Here are some past posts from microBEnet on these outbreaks: