September 03. 2018 9:40PM

Hampton Beach resort to flush its water system in response to Legionnaires' disease outbreak

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent


Management at The Sands Resort posted these notices at the front desk in response to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Hampton. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/CORRESPONDENT)

HAMPTON — State health officials have posted a public health notice at the front desk of The Sands Resort after guests who stayed there were recently diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

The notice says water tests at the popular summertime vacation destination show Legionella bacteria may still be present in the water system.

Officials shut down the hot tub area of the resort last week but said Sunday night that tests conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detected the presence of the bacteria in multiple locations within the water system, not just in the hot tub area.

The bacteria, which can cause a sometimes deadly pneumonia, was found in the water heater, an outdoor shower hose, as well as shower and sink heads in three guest rooms.

The Sands Resort offers year-round suites for rent. The business had no vacancy Monday.

Next to the Department for Health and Human Services notice at The Sands Resort’s front desk are two notices from management.

The first says, “We are currently taking all required and necessary steps to remedy the situation. If you choose not to check in or you would like to check out early, please see the front desk.”

The second warns people to be cautious while using the water in their sinks and showers because the temperature was increased as one of the steps necessary to help kill off the bacteria.

On Monday evening, management at The Sands Resort sent out a lengthy statement which said the hotel will have 17 certified industrial hygienists and professional engineers arrive on Wednesday to flush out the water system. The goal is to be finished by Friday morning, in time for the annual Hampton Beach Seafood Festival.

“We would also like everyone to know that we have estimated that between 3,000 to 4,000 men, women, teenagers and children have been here at The Sands during the month of August. Although, to date, nine individuals who contacted Legionnaires’ disease have visited The Sands, it does not prove in any way that they got the illness due to their stay at The Sands,” the statement said.

DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers had ordered the resort owners to hire a consultant to assess and begin the decontamination process.

On Thursday, state Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan announced one of the people diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in the Hampton outbreak died from complications related to pneumonia.

So far, 14 people have been diagnosed in the Hampton outbreak.

The state also confirmed last week two additional cases of Legionnaires’ in Nashua that appeared to be unrelated to the Hampton cluster.

Bobbie Bagley, director of Nashua Public Health and Community Services, said New Hampshire averages around 32 cases of Legionnaires’ each year, although the total can vary widely from year to year.

Investigators determined one of the Nashua patients contracted the disease in New Hampshire while the other was infected out of state, Bagley said.

People looking for more information on the Hampton outbreak can call NH DHHS at 603-271-9461.

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Union Leader Staff Writer Doug Alden contributed to this report.