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Hot tubs linked to deadly Hampton Legionnaires outbreak not registered with state

Union Leader Correspondent

September 05. 2018 3:27PM
The Sands Resort is one of two hotels in Hampton with hot tubs suspected of spreading Legionnaires' disease. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

HAMPTON – State officials have confirmed that the two public hot tubs linked to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Hampton were not registered.

Jim Martin, a public information officer for New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, said Wednesday morning that spas at the Sands Resort on Ashworth Avenue and Harris Sea Ranch Motel on Ocean Boulevard were not registered facilities.

Public bathing places need to register with the state under RSA 485-A: 26-28, Martin said.

“In this case, it’s my understanding it’s a public-type facility. It’s a communal thing,” Martin said.

Martin said there are 1,400 registered facilities in New Hampshire. His department is working with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services as they investigate the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and said administrative fines may be issued.

Under state law, an administrative fine of up to $2,000 may be levied for each offense.

On Tuesday, state officials announced that a 15th case of Legionnaires’ disease was confirmed related to the Hampton outbreak. So far, 13 people have been hospitalized and one person has died from complications related to pneumonia.

The Sands Resort management team is working to have the water system there flushed in time for the annual Seafood Festival that begins Friday, but they do not admit fault in the outbreak.

In a lengthy statement released Monday, officials from the management company said the hot tub there is drained and completely cleaned two to three times every week and is refilled with fresh water. They said they also had a new filter and pump system installed in the hot tub by Aqua Paradise of North Hampton this spring.

Management officials argue some of their workers are at higher risk for infection from Legionella bacteria but did not get sick.

“Some of our managers live on the property. In fact, our housekeeping manager is in her late 60s, and is a smoker. Our maintenance manager, who drains and cleans the hot tub 2-3 times per week, is 71-years-old, and is a heavy smoker. They have been with us for years, and neither have had any symptoms of this illness,” the statement says.

Management company officials also question results from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying legionella bacteria found at the property Aug. 29 could have been dead or inactive, testers did not wait long enough before collecting data on water temperatures and the CDC did not test water in a new water meter installed this March.

In their statement Tuesday, state officials said they will continue to work with the Sands Resort’s management consultant to ensure protection of the public’s health.

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