Hamilton Township officials announced Friday September 25, 2020 that a potential cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases has been discovered. Four township residents are confirmed to have contracted the disease, two of whom died. Sources at the New Jersey Department of Health say the residents began exhibiting symptoms between August 18 and August 24. Although relatively uncommon in New Jersey, officials have been quick to issue township-wide warnings. “If you’re not feeling well and have respiratory illness symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and headache I encourage you to speak with your medical provider,” said one township health official.
Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, and is contracted by inhaling or ingesting contaminated water. Aerosolized water, or water droplets, can come from cooling towers (air-conditioning units for large buildings), hot tubs, water displays like a decorative fountain, and plumbing systems. The source of Hamilton’s potential outbreak is currently unknown. “NJDOH and the Hamilton Township Division of Health are working closely together to identify possible sources,” says the Medical Director at the New Jersey Department of Health. “Since this is a continuing investigation, healthcare providers are urged to test patients with community-acquired and healthcare-acquired pneumonia for Legionnaires’ disease, especially among residents of Hamilton Township.” The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease and COVID-19 can be very similar, which makes immediately contacting your medical provider about the possibility of Legionnaires’ that more important.
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