N.J. town reports 5 more cases of Legionnaires’ disease, 1 death

Five additional people have contracted Legionnaires’ disease in Hamilton and another person has died, following a cluster of cases first detected a year ago in the Mercer County town.

The total number of cases stretching back to August 2020 is now nine, with three deaths, and they remain under investigation by the state Department of Health, the town and state reported Tuesday in a joint statement.

Hamilton first reported four cases of Legionnaires last August, two of which were fatal.

Since then, officials said Wednesday, they identified five more cases, one from November 2020 and four from May to August 2021.

One person died last month, described only as an elderly township resident.

“The water is safe to drink, but there are basic precautions that residents can take to help protect themselves – such as regularly flushing water at their taps and maintaining their hot water tank,” state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan said in a statement issued by Hamilton.

Tan noted that home air conditioning units do not use water as a cooling agent and do not aerosolise water, thus are not a risk for growing Legionella, the bacteria that causes the disease, which is spread through the inhalation of infected water droplets.
Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia that is treatable with antibiotics, and health officials stressed that anyone with symptoms seek medical attention.

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