Bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease found in Central Jersey water

Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease, has been found in water supplies from homes throughout Central Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Health announced Saturday.

The bacteria was found in more than half of the 30 homes sampled in September, including homes in Trenton, Ewing, and parts of Lawrence and Hopewell Township. All the homes were served by Trenton Water Works.

This investigation started when Legionnaires’ disease was previously detected in Hamilton Township, with five cases including one death reported since December 2021. The most recent case was reported to health in September 2022.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that people can get after breathing in aerosolised water (small droplets of water in the air) containing Legionella bacteria. Individuals cannot get Legionnaires’ disease by drinking water that has Legionella.
It is unknown if individuals with Legionella detected in their homes are more likely to develop Legionnaires’ disease. While it is rare for a healthy person who is exposed to Legionella to become sick with Legionnaires’ disease, people who are 50 years or older, especially those who smoke, or have weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease or other chronic health conditions, are at increased risk.
The New Jersey Department of Health found of significant concerns with Trenton Water Works’ operations and management, including intermittent failures to fully maintain treatment processes, monitor water quality, employ adequately trained operating personnel, and invest in required maintenance and capital needs such as upgrades to ageing infrastructure.

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