NH health officials investigating Legionnaires' disease cluster

Published: Aug. 28, 2018 at 11:45 AM EDT
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Health officials have now identified five cases of Legionnaires' disease connected to a half-mile stretch of road in New Hampshire.

They don't yet know exactly how the people were infected but say each of the five people spent some time in Hampton on Ashworth Avenue between Island Path and H Street. They likely acquired the disease at the end of July or beginning of August.

So far, three people needed to be hospitalized. They were treated and released.

Legionnaires' disease, also called Legionella pneumonia, is bacterial pneumonia that can be treated with antibiotics. It's contracted by inhaling contaminated water droplets that can be spread in a number of ways including hot tubs and cooling towers.

"There's no health risk if someone touches water that has this bacteria, drinks water with this bacteria. This is not an infection that can be spread from person to person," said Dr. Benjamin Chan, an epidemiologist.

Health officials say they released the information so people with weak or compromised immune systems can make informed decisions about where they travel.

New Hampshire has seen an average of 32 cases of Legionnaires' disease a year over the past five years. However, it's been 10 years since multiple infections have been reported in a cluster.