N.H. Reports First Death from Legionnaires' Disease in Hampton

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Although most people exposed to Legionella will not get sick, it can cause severe illness and sometimes result in death.

Three new cases of Legionnaires' disease have been confirmed at a public housing complex in Harlem.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health Services is continuing to investigate an outbreak in the area associated with Ashworth Avenue between Island Path and M Street in Hampton of the potentially serious bacterial pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. At least 12 people have been hospitalized, and one, an elderly person from out-of-state, has died.

The hot tubs are located at the Sands Resort and Harris Sea Ranch, which remain open for business.

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The state plans to give another update Tuesday, after Labor Day. This pathogen was discovered in 1976 when it infected more than 200 people and killed 34 because air conditioning vents spread the bacteria through the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia during an American Legion convention. It can not be contracted by drinking or coming into physical contact with water containing the bacteria (such as while swimming).

The NH DHHS says tests carried about by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC "detected the presence of the Legionella bacteria from multiple sources within the Sands Resort water system, including but not limited hot tub spa". Symptoms of the virus include fever and some other flu-like illness; however, most of the cases develop no symptoms.

Legionnaires' disease is a treatable using antibiotics for pneumonia. There is no vaccine. However, individuals who are at a higher risk of the disease should continue to take steps to protect their health, which includes postponing a visit to the area if they are concerned about their health.

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