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9 New Sites Test Positive For Legionnaires' Bacteria, Officials Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Nine new sites have tested positive for the bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease, officials said late Wednesday.

Three new sites have tested positive for legionella bacteria in the impact zone in the South Bronx, in addition to 111 previously discovered in the areas, according to a joint release from the city and state health departments.

Separately, six sites have tested positive for the bacteria outside the impact zone and are not necessarily connected to the South Bronx outbreak, according to the departments.

9 New Sites Test Positive For Legionnaires' Bacteria, Officials Say

A total of 12 people have died in the South Bronx outbreak, and the number of confirmed cases of infection has risen to 119. But there have been no new cases with onset of symptoms since Aug. 3, officials said.

At a town hall meeting on Tuesday, some questioned why Mayor Bill de Blasio wasn't there while others were concerned about the disease spreading even further.

Officials Hold Town Hall Meeting On Bronx Legionnaires' Outbreak

"How do we stop it from getting into our lungs if it's in the air?" one woman asked. "How do we prevent it if it's in the air?"

"How often are these cooling towers going to be cleaned?" another man asked.

Some tried to understand why the outbreak is hitting so close to where they live.

"Why the South Bronx? This is almost like a perfect storm -- five towers in the one area caused the Legionnaires' outbreak," one woman said. "This is puzzling to me."

De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose administrations have clashed over how to respond to the outbreak, put out a joint statement Tuesday with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to say they'd work together on legislation mandating the regulation of cooling towers.

Their offices will craft legislation to mandate the regulations and timing of mandatory inspection of cooling towers, which can harbor the Legionella bacteria.

"We're going to have this registry, we're going to require a maintenance plan, we're going to require constant checking of those systems, every three months," Mark-Viverito said."I think this is a really important step. We should be really proud."

Previously, there were not any cleaning regulations or a registry of buildings that have the towers.

The council is expected to pass legislation. Cuomo will then use his emergency powers to apply it statewide.

The disease is caused when water contaminated with a certain bacteria is inhaled into the lungs. It's easily diagnosed and treated with antibiotics, but poses the most risk to people who have underlying medical conditions.

Meanwhile, a jail inmate at Rikers Island has been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, though health officials don't believe the case is related to the outbreak in the South Bronx.

It was unclear how the unnamed 63-year-old inmate, who had underlying health conditions, contracted the disease, but a City Hall spokeswoman said all six of the Department of Correction's cooling towers had been disinfected last month and would be cleaned again.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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