HAMPTON — An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has infected four people with the potentially serious bacterial pneumonia, state health officials announced Saturday.
All of the cases of the Legionella pneumonia are centered around the area of Ashworth Avenue, between Island Path and H Street, in Hampton Beach, officials said.
The outbreak emerged in late July and early August and state officials are actively seeking the source of the infections, which usually result from inhaling airborne droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria, officials said.
Sources can include showers, hot tubs, faucets, cooling towers, misters and decorative fountains, officials said. Drinking or swimming in water does not spread the disease.
“Legionella is a serious infection,” said Lisa Morris, director of the Division of Public Health Services. “We want to make sure the public is aware of the potential risk of this disease so that each person can make a decision for themselves about visiting the area in the best interest of their health.”
State officials said those who are at increased risk of getting the disease should not visit this neighborhood.
Those more at risk are people age 50 or older, current or former smokers, those with chronic lung disease, weakened immune systems or those with underlying illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure and liver failure.
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.
Symptoms will usually begin within two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria but people should watch for symptoms for about two weeks after exposure. People who visited the area more than two weeks ago and have not developed symptoms are not at risk for disease, officials said. Individuals who visited the area and developed symptoms within 14 days of their stay should contact their health care provider and seek medical attention.