Three cases of Legionnaires' disease traced to Parsippany hotel's water system

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Three cases of Legionnaires' disease have been traced to the Hilton/Hampton Inn Parsippany Hotel water system, an investigation by the state Department of Health and Parsippany Health and Human Services Department has found.

The disease, a type of pneumonia caused by breathing in Legionella bacteria that is found in soil and grows in water, such as air-conditioning ducts, storage tanks and rivers, sickened the three guests who visited the 1 Hilton Court hotel between July 2021 and October 2021. The individuals range in age from 52 to 77 and have since recovered, the state Department of Health stated.

The outbreak investigation to determine if the hotel was the source started after the second case was identified in February.

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Health officials visited the hotel and collected water samples that tested positive for Legionella. The water samples revealed Legionella bacteria was in the building’s water system guests use for showering, washing hands and brushing teeth.

The hotel is disinfecting the building’s water system, the state department stated, however "the risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease among recent, current, and future guests is ongoing."

The hotel chain did not respond to requests for more information.

Most healthy people who are exposed to the bacteria do not develop the disease, health officials said. Those over 50, smokers, of people with certain medical conditions and weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease or other chronic health conditions, are at increased risk for the disease.

Legionella pneumophila, a bacterium that can cause Legionnaires’ disease, growing on specialized microbiological media.
Legionella pneumophila, a bacterium that can cause Legionnaires’ disease, growing on specialized microbiological media.

The health department recommends anyone with risk factors should find alternative accommodations or "take precautions" if staying at the hotel by avoiding exposure to water by not showering and not using the tap water.

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Anyone who has recently visited the hotel should monitor their health for 14 days for symptoms that include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and headaches.

If symptoms develop, immediately seek medical attention. The symptoms are similar to those seen in cases of COVID-19, so it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible to receive appropriate testing and treatment, the health department information stated.

Legionnaires’ disease is treatable with antibiotics, but can cause severe illness and even death.

Anyone diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease after visiting the hotel is asked to call their local health department.

For more information on Legionnaire’s disease, please visit the Department website.

This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: Three cases of Legionnaires' disease traced to Parsippany hotel water