Officials Report 12 Cases, Including 1 Death, in Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak at Hampton Beach

Officials in New Hampshire say there have been 12 confirmed cases, including one resulting in a death, of Legionnaires' disease near Hampton Beach.

One elderly adult died from pneumonia associated with the disease, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services officials said Thursday.

The outbreak has been tentatively traced to two hot tub spas at two resorts, The Sands Resort and Harris Sea Ranch Motel, according to officials.

New Hampshire health officials and officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to identify the source of the bacteria, and said the majority of the cases are within the Ashworth Avenue area between Island Path and M Street in Hampton.

The infections happened between early June and mid-August. The initial announcement of Legionnaires' disease traced to the Hampton Beach area came Aug. 24.

"We got to get out," said Alan Cunningham, a guest at the Sands Resort. "I'm 72 years old, this is hitting too close to home. I don't want a chance on this."

Cunningham says his conversation with a motel clerk didn't go well because he was told he won't get a refund.

"He said, 'Oh, no, it's not a problem.' He said it's only located in the hot tub," said Cunningham, who checked in from New York Thursday. "I said 'We're not comfortable with this, we would like to move out and we'll find someplace else to stay. We just want a refund.'"

Health officials are still working to pinpoint the exact source of the outbreak, but the impacted hot tubs have been closed as a precaution.

Hot tub spas are a known source of the bacteria that causes Legionnaire's, officials said.

"I don't know if I'm supposed to hug my friends," said Julia Martinelli, a resident in the area of the outbreak.

Legionnaires' disease, a potentially serious bacterial pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria, can result in an infection after someone breaths in small drops of water that contains bacteria.

Health officials say most people exposed to the Legionella bacteria won't get sick, but the bacteria does pose a higher risk to those who have a weakened immune system, those who take drugs that can weaken their immune system, current or former smokers, those who are 50 years old or older and people with underlying illnesses, such as diabetes, kidney or liver failure.

"We'll be a little more careful," said Catherine Daoust Pichette, a tourist from Canada staying at the Harris Sea Ranch. "We'll still plan on having fun."

Both motels remain open, and neither would comment about the situation.

"My wife and I are here to enjoy ourselves, not put ourselves in jeopardy," said Cunningham. "And this is putting us in jeopardy right now."

Officials ask members of the public who have developed symptoms, which include coughing, shortness of breath, fever and headaches, to contact the state health department at 603-271-9461.

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