HAMPTON – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services has identified four persons with Legionella pneumonia, also known as Legionnaire’s disease, a potentially serious bacterial pneumonia.
These individuals likely acquired Legionella at the end of July or early August in the area of Ashworth Avenue, between Island Path and H Street in Hampton, New Hampshire. DPHS is investigating possible additional cases.
DPHS is also actively investigating the source of these infections, which is usually from inhaling aerosol droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria. Sources of the aerosol can include showers, hot tubs, faucets, cooling towers, misters, and decorative fountains. It is not spread by drinking or swimming in water.
While the investigation is underway, in an abundance of caution, DPHS recommends that people who are at increased risk for severe disease from Legionella consider postponing their visit to the area of Ashworth Avenue between Island Path and H Street in Hampton, New Hampshire.
People who are at increased risk of getting sick include:
• People 50 years or older
• Current or former smokers
• People with chronic lung disease
• People with weakened immune systems
• People who take drugs that can weaken their immune systems (after a transplant operation or chemotherapy)
• People with underlying illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure
“Legionella is a serious infection,” said Lisa Morris, Director of the Division of Public Health Services. “We want to make sure the public is aware of the potential risk of this disease so that each person can make a decision for themselves about visiting the area in the best interest of their health.”
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. Most people exposed to Legionella will not get sick; however, it can cause severe illness and sometimes result in death. People do not spread Legionnaires’ disease to other people. Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are very similar to other types of pneumonia and can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches.
Symptoms will usually begin within 2 to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria. However, people should watch for symptoms for about two weeks after exposure. People who visited the area more than two weeks ago and have not developed symptoms are not at risk for disease. If an individual visited this area and developed symptoms within 14 days of their stay, they should contact their healthcare provider and seek medical attention.
If you have information or questions about this outbreak, please call the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. A public inquiry phone line is available to answer questions from 8am – 4pm, including over the weekend, by calling 603-271-9461, or for those calling from within the state of New Hampshire, toll-free at 1-800-852-3345 ext. 9461.
For further information, please visit the CDC webpage at https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/.