NEWARK, N.J. — Health officials are investigating a suspected outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the senior citizens’ building in downtown Newark.
The outbreak has been reported at 2 Nevada Court.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria called Legionella. People can get Legionnaires’ disease by breathing in aerosolized (small) droplets of water containing Legionella bacteria. Aerosolized water can come from showers, faucets, hot tubs, humidifiers, and decorative fountains. Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from person-to-person.
The disease is treatable with common antibiotics, but it can be serious, especially for the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, and those with compromised immune systems. Minimizing breathing in water mist and early medical diagnosis and treatment are the keys to minimizing negative outcomes.
City and state investigators will inspect and test the building’s water supply and are working to inform residents about this issue.
The most important thing someone can do is to get medical attention right away if they start having symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, and cough. This is even more important if they are aged 50 or older (especially if you smoke cigarettes), have chronic lung disease, have a weakened immune system, or take medicines that weaken your immune system.
Those who have one of the health issues above should take these extra steps as a precaution:
- Consider taking a bath instead of a shower, since a shower could create a water mist. Try to minimize your time in the bathroom while the tub is filling.
- It is fine to brush your teeth, wash your hands, or wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating mist.
- It is fine to drink cold water from the tap but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee, or cooking. You cannot get Legionnaires’ disease by drinking water.
If you have questions about Legionnaires’ disease, please contact the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at (973) 733-7592. The same number can be called after hours and on weekends. Be sure to include your name and contact information. Additional information about Legionnaires’ disease can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at: https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html.