SOUTH BRONX - As the South Bronx deals with one of New York City's worst outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease, a survivor has advice for residents he picked up during his bout with the illness 11 years ago.
Carlos Reyes says the current outbreak is a stark reminder of that traumatic experience.
"When the ambulance came and took me, the next thing you know, I woke up," Reyes says. "They asked me what day it was. I thought it was my birthday -- the next day -- but it was about a month later."
Reyes says that of the more than 30 days he was checked into North Central Bronx Hospital, he spent 23 days in a coma. Before his admission, he'd had trouble breathing and other symptoms.
He kept hundreds of pages of medical records, detailing the treatments. He was first diagnosed with severe pneumonia, and notes show his body temperature was recorded at as high as 107 degrees.
"I was 36 years old," Reyes says. "I was healthy...I was working two jobs and had my own business. I don't have any idea where I got it from."
He says his recovery took a year to complete, and urges anyone who feels ill to seek treatment earlier than he did.
He also emphasizes that Legionnaires' isn't contagious. During his period of sickness, his wife and five children never contracted the disease.