By Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - Preliminary tests show the cooling towers of a Bronx housing complex that is home to about 50,000 people are contaminated with the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease, the New York City health department said Tuesday.

The department said eight of 12 recent cases of Legionella bacteria in the borough have been diagnosed among Co-Op City’s residents.

The system’s water is used to cool the towers’ heating and electrical network. It is not the same water residents use for drinking, cooking and bathing.

The cooling towers have been shut down for cleaning and chlorination. And complex manager River Bay Corporation began decontaminating the cooling system Saturday, the department said.

Resident Gertrude Brown, 77, said she first heard, through word of mouth, about a problem last week.

“I am concerned about it, but I need to know more so I know what to do,” she said, adding that a meeting was planned for residents Tuesday night.

The health department said tenants’ heat or hot water service isn’t expected to be disrupted during the decontamination process.

The symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease include fever, chills and muscle aches. The illness cannot be spread from person to person. It is contracted by breathing in contaminated mist or vapor. Officials urged anyone with symptoms to seek care.

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