Two dead in Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York

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(CNN) — Two people have died in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York. Thirty-one cases of the flu-like disease have been reported since mid-July in the South Bronx, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.

Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory bacterial infection usually spread through mist that comes from a water source, such as cooling towers, air conditioning or showers. It is not transmitted person to person. Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills and a cough. Most people recover, but between 5% to 30% of those who get the disease die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

“We are conducting a swift investigation to determine the source of the outbreak and prevent future cases. I urge anyone with symptoms to seek medical attention right away,” said Dr. Mary Bassett, commissioner of the New York City health department.

The health department’s probe includes testing water from potential sources in the area.

An outbreak of the disease killed two people at a hotel in downtown Chicago in 2012.

An estimated 8,000 to 18,000 hospitalized cases of Legionnaires’ disease occurs each year in the United States.

An outbreak of the disease in Philadelphia in 1976, largely among people attending a convention of the American Legion, led to its name.