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New York hotel source of deadly Legionnaires' outbreak that killed 12

Published:Friday | August 21, 2015 | 8:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP):

A historic hotel's rooftop air-conditioning unit is the source of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that has killed 12 people and sickened more than 100 in the Bronx, city Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said yesterday.

After extensive sampling and testing of Legionnaires'-causing bacteria, laboratories have matched the strain found in the hotel's rooftop unit - also called a cooling tower with the strain found in 25 patients, some of whom died, Bassett said.

"The outbreak is over," Bassett said, noting the maximum incubation period has passed since the last new report of someone coming down with symptoms.

Dr Jay K. Varma, a deputy health commissioner for disease control, said health officials investigating the outbreak learned nine days into their probe, on July 29, that a guest who had stayed at the hotel had become ill.

In all, there have been 128 cases and almost all patients hospitalised with the disease have been discharged, officials said.

The outbreak has become the city's most significant public health crisis since last fall's Ebola scare. For more than a month, cases of Legionnaires' - a form of pneumonia especially dangerous for the elderly and for people with underlying health issues - have been reported throughout a section of the South Bronx, the city's poorest neighbourhood.