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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
3-D illustration of bacterium Legionella pneumophila

A 15th person in downtown Flushing has contracted Legionnaires’ disease in the ongoing outbreak, the city’s Health Department announced on Nov. 2.

According to the agency, the individual began experiencing symptoms of the bacterial infection well before Oct. 24, the date in which the city announced the cluster of Legionnaires’ cases. The person did not require hospitalization and is recovering.

“This person began having symptoms well before a cluster was declared, but was only recently diagnosed on Oct. 25,” the Health Department said in a statement. “For this reason, we remain confident that the risk to Flushing residents continues to diminish. If by next week we do not see any additional cases with illness onset later than Oct. 17 in downtown Flushing, we will declare the case investigation over. However, remediation of cooling towers identified during the investigation will continue as necessary.”

Just one of the 14 patients initially diagnosed with Legionnaires’ remains hospitalized, the agency reported. There have been no deaths connected with the outbreak.

Since the outbreak began, the Health Department ordered the owners of 11 buildings to increase the use of disinfectants or biocides in cooling towers to kill any and all Legionella bacteria. The agency tested numerous cooling towers in downtown Flushing, with results still pending.

Legionnaires’ disease is an infection caused by Legionella bacteria that live in warm, moist environments including cooling towers in commercial and residential buildings to power heating and air conditioning units. There are between 200 and 400 Legionnaires’ cases reported annually in New York City.

Once the Health Department gets the final results, it will announces a series of additional measures to fully disinfect any contaminated cooling towers.

Persons over the age of 50 and/or who have compromised immune symptoms are at the highest risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Symptoms include fever, cough, chills and muscle aches. Anyone who experiences such symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

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