A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Central Harlem has sickened nine people in the last 10 days. All of them have been hospitalized. Legionnaires’ disease is a severe, often fatal, form of pneumonia that has symptoms similar to COVID-19 including shortness of breath, cough, headache, fever, and muscle aches.


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All nine of the illnesses have been reported among residents in the zip codes 10037 and 10039. Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi is urging Central Harlem residents with flu-like symptoms to see a doctor and get evaluated for Legionnaires’ disease and COVID-19 as quickly as possible.

Some people including former smokers, people over 50, and people with compromised immune systems are at elevated risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Treatment of Legionnaires’ disease often requires hospitalization, about 10 percent of cases are fatal.

Although the symptoms of COVID-19 and Legionnaires’ are similar, the diseases differ from each other in one key way. Legionnaire’s disease is not contagious. It develops when people breathe in water vapor that has been contaminated with Legionella bacteria. These bacteria are found in nature but grow best in man-made structures, especially the plumbing and air conditioning systems of large buildings. There has been a sharp increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases in recent months as buildings reopened after COVID-19 closures.

Previous outbreaks have been linked to hot tubs, whirlpools, swimming pools, fountains, and cooling towers. New York City health officials have not yet determined the source of this outbreak, but they are testing cooling towers in the area.

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Experienced Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyers

Our Legionnaires’ disease lawyers represent people nationwide who have been sickened by contaminated water and the families of those who have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one. If you or a loved one developed Legionnaires’ disease, our legal team can help. For a free consultation, please fill out the form below, call 1-888-377-8900, or text 612-261-0856.