Two people have died of Legionnaires’ disease at a Manhattan nursing home after Legionella bacteria were found at the facility, the New York State Department of Health said.

A department spokeswoman said it was unclear if the Legionnaires were the primary cause of death.

The state investigated eight possible cases of Legionnaires’ disease linked to an Amsterdam nursing home between June and early September. Four of the eight people, including the two who were confirmed to be infected, have died. A third, nonfatal case tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease.

The remaining five cases are people with the first evidence of the disease.

The names of the dead residents have not been released.

The eight nursing home residents ranged in age from 69 to 93, a nursing home spokeswoman said.

The source of the infection in the building has not been identified, a spokeswoman for the state and the nursing home said, but water restrictions have been placed on the west wing of the facility, where people with suspected cases live.

“Amsterdam Nursing is working closely to assist in any way we can to investigate this matter,” nursing home spokesman Jeff Jakomowitz said Tuesday.

The bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever, which is mild. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal in about 10 percent of cases, according to the CDC

People can become infected from the building’s cooling towers, or showers and hot tubs; According to the city’s health department. The disease is rarely transmitted from person to person.

Cases of Legionnaires’ disease have increased almost as much as average. 12 percent per year in New York between 2007 and 2018, according to city data. Most people exposed to Legionella bacteria do not become infected. But among those who do, those most at risk of getting sick are those 50 and older, those with weakened immune systems and those with chronic illnesses such as lung disease.

Infection rates in the city are highest among older, black and low-income populations, who are more likely to live in poorly maintained homes. Legionella thrives in warm conditions, which means the risk increases as the weather warms.

The nursing home installed “hospital-grade” filters in the building’s faucets and shower heads, Mr. Jakomawitz said. He also explained that the facility is providing bottled water for drinking and bathing.

As of 2011 City Health DepartmentPeople cannot get Legionnaires’ disease by drinking water that contains the bacteria. Those who use that water for cooking or making hot drinks should start with cold water, the agency suggests.

Beginning in 2015, New York State required that cooling towers in buildings be registered, periodically inspected, and tested for Legionella.

An Amsterdam nursing home has been cited twice for violations since 2017, out of five cooling tower system inspections there, according to city data. In the year The 2017 violation was that a new cooling tower was not adequately cleaned or decontaminated before use, and the second violation was for failing to collect and analyze a Legionella sample in March 2021. The most recent inspection in October 2021 revealed no violations.

Samples tested from the facility in January and June this year did not contain any bacteria, said a spokesperson for the state’s health department.

The Amsterdam nursing home will be fully compliant with city health department rules by 2021, Mr Jakomowitz said.

Adel Hassan And Anne Barnard Contribution reporting.

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