The New Jersey Department of Health in coordination with the Parsippany-Troy Hills Health and Human Services Department is investigating three cases of Legionnaires’ disease in guests who stayed at the Hilton/Hampton Inn Parsippany Hotel last year. Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by breathing in Legionella bacteria.
The guests visited the hotel, located at 1 Hilton Ct., between July 2021 and October 2021. The individuals range in age from 52 to 77 and have since recovered.
After the second case was identified in February 2022, the Department in coordination with the Parsippany-Troy Hills Health and Human Services Department began an outbreak investigation to determine if the hotel was a possible source of these infections. Health officials visited the site in February and instructed hotel management to collect samples from the building’s water system for Legionella testing. The Department received the water testing results in April which revealed the presence of Legionella bacteria in the building’s water system that is used for purposes such as showering, washing hands, and brushing teeth.
The hotel management is taking action to disinfect the building’s water system; however, the risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease among recent, current, and future guests is ongoing.
The risk of Legionnaires’ disease among healthy individuals is low. Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not develop Legionnaires’ disease. People over the age of 50, former or current smokers, or those with certain medical conditions, including weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease or other chronic health conditions, are at increased risk for the disease.
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Guests who have one of the above risk factors are encouraged to find alternative accommodations or to take precautions while visiting the hotel to avoid exposure to water by not showering, limiting use of sinks, and not using tap water for respiratory equipment.
All guests who recently visited or plan to stay at the hotel should monitor their health for 14 days for symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and headaches. If symptoms develop within two weeks of their check-out date, they should immediately visit their healthcare provider. Guests who stayed at the Hilton/Hampton Parsippany more than two weeks ago and have not developed symptoms are no longer at risk for the disease as a result of their visit.
The symptoms are similar to those seen in cases of COVID-19, so it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible to receive appropriate testing and treatment.
Legionnaires’ disease is treatable with antibiotics, but can cause severe illness and even death.
People can get Legionnaires’ disease by breathing in aerosolized water (small droplets of water in the air) containing Legionella bacteria. Aerosolized water can come from showerheads and sink faucets, hot tubs, decorative fountains, and cooling towers (air-conditioning units for large buildings). Less commonly, people can get sick by aspiration of tap water containing Legionella. This happens when water accidently goes into the lungs while drinking (“goes down the wrong pipe”). People at increased risk of aspiration water include those with swallowing difficulties.