One Dead, 12 Infected in Hampton Beach Legionnaire’s Outbreak
HAMPTON, N.H. -- Twelve people have been infected and one person has died amid an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Hampton, N.H.
They likely acquired the potentially serious bacterial pneumonia between early June and mid-August in the Ashworth Avenue area of Hampton, according to health officials. Local officials are expecting to confirm more cases in the coming days.
While there has been an average of 30 to 35 cases of the disease in New Hampshire over the past five years, New Hampshire State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said there hasn’t been a clustered outbreak like this for the past 15 years.
“We are concerned,” Chan told the Herald. “Legionnaire’s disease can be potentially serious and unfortunately an even deadly infection. For that reason we take reports of Legionnaire’s disease seriously.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services are still looking for the source of the bacteria.
“We are working hard to identify the exact source of these infections,” said Lisa Morris, director of the Division of Public Health Services. “Even though the information is preliminary, we want to allow the public to make informed decisions about visiting the area and their activities in the area.”
As a precautionary measure, DPHS has closed the hot tub spas at the Sands Hotel and the Harris Sea Ranch Motel because hot tub spas in general are a known source of the bacteria. The hot tubs no longer present a potential risk to the public and both hotels remain open.
Legionnaire’s is often contracted when people inhale small drops of water containing Legionella bacteria, which causes the disease. It cannot be passed via person-to-person contact.
Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are very similar to other types of pneumonia and can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches.
“Federal, state and local authorities are working cooperatively and diligently to address this situation and help mitigate any additional health risks,” Gov. Chris Sununu said. “Through regular communication and transparency, we will ensure members of the public have the most up-to-date information so that they can make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”
Individuals who are at higher risk of Legionnaire’s disease should take steps to protect their health, including consideration of postponing their visit to the area if they are concerned about their health and talking to their health care providers. People with increased risk of getting sick from Legionella include:
* People with weakened immune systems
* People who take drugs that can weaken their immune systems (after a transplant operation or chemotherapy)
* People with chronic lung disease
* Current or former smokers
* People with underlying illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure or liver failure
* People 50 years or older