NewsDesk @bactiman63

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has identified five people with Legionella pneumonia, also known as Legionnaire’s disease, a potentially serious bacterial pneumonia. All five individuals had stayed at the Meredith Woods and Clearwater Campground in Meredith, NH before coming down with their illness between early fall 2021 and January 2023.

Legionella pneumophila bacteria/CDC

All five individuals were hospitalized as a result of their illness and later recovered; no deaths have been reported.

DPHS and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) are actively investigating this outbreak to identify water system contamination and implement corrective actions to prevent further infections. Legionella bacteria are a commonly occurring environmental bacteria that can contaminate water systems, and people become infected from inhaling aerosolized water droplets contaminated with the bacteria. Sources of the aerosolized water droplets can include showers, hot tubs, faucets, cooling towers, misters, and decorative fountains. It is not spread by drinking or swimming in water, except in the instance of aspiration, and is not usually transmitted from one person to another. Most people become infected by inhaling the bacteria from water droplets.

“Anybody choosing to stay at this facility should be aware of the ongoing outbreak investigation and potential risk for exposure to Legionella bacteria through the facility’s water system,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “We are working with the facility and NHDES to implement a water management plan, prevent further water system contamination, and prevent future Legionella infections. Anybody who has stayed at this facility in the last couple of weeks and develops pneumonia or fever and respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, headache and muscles aches, should talk to their healthcare provider about testing for Legionella infection, which can impact treatment decisions.”

Environmental testing at the facility have shown Legionella pneumophila bacteria contamination in the water system at several locations. There is also a chance that there are additional locations at the site that may be contaminated. DPHS is working with the facility ownership, NHDES, and an environmental consultant to implement a water prevention and management plan.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. Most people exposed to Legionella will not get sick; however, it can cause severe illness and sometimes result in death. People do not spread Legionnaires’ disease to other people. Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are very similar to other types of pneumonia and can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. While many people may just develop mild symptoms, if left untreated, Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal

Symptoms usually begin within 2 to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria. If an individual visited this area and develops symptoms within 14 days of their stay, they should contact their healthcare provider and seek medical attention and testing.