Cluster of Legionnaires' disease reported in Hampton, N.H.

Cluster of Legionnaires' disease reported in Hampton, N.H.

HAMPTON, N.H. — A cluster of Legionnaires' Disease has been reported nearby a popular New Hampshire beach.

According to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, four people have been diagnosed with Legionella pneumonia, also known as Legionnaire's disease, a potentially serious bacterial pneumonia.

The report speculates those individuals likely contracted the bacteria sometime in late July or early August in the area of Ashworth Avenue, between Island Path and H Street in Hampton, New Hampshire.

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Jim Camburn, one of hundreds of people vacationing along Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, expressed his concern after the Department of Health and Human Services found a cluster of the disease at a motel on Ashworth Avenue.

"It’s disgusting," Camburn said. "They should do something about it. I mean everyone comes here from all over the place. I'll bring it up to the owner and say, 'What’s up with this? Why weren’t we notified?"

Camburn said the lack of notification upset him and his family, after decades of heading to Hampton Beach.

"We’ve been coming here for 30-plus years, and that’s scary," Camburn said. "That’ scary, you know, a warning would have been lovely."

DPHS is investigating any other possible additional cases as well as the source of the infections. The infection is commonly contracted by inhaling aerosol droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria.

Sources for infection can include showers, hot tubs, faucets, cooling towers, misters and decorative fountains. It is not spread by drinking or swimming in water.

Officials are recommending people who are at increased risk for severe disease from Legionella to stay away from the affected areas.

Those at increased risk 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.”

Most people exposed to Legionella will not get sick, however, it can cause severe illness and sometimes result in death, but cannot be spread from person to person.

Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches and usually begin within 2 to 10 days after exposure to bacteria. However, symptoms could develop up to two weeks after exposure.

If you or someone you know have visited the affected area within the last two weeks and developed symptoms, you should contact your health provider.

For more information on Legionella, you can visit the CDC's page here.