A hotel in Hampton, N.H., has been ordered to take action after the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease was detected in the hot tub, water heater, and shower and sink heads of three rooms, state health officials said Sunday.
Nine people who have stayed at The Sands Resort since July have contracted the disease, according to the order signed Sunday afternoon by Jeffrey A. Meyers, the commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
On Saturday, the number of Legionnaires’ disease cases in Hampton rose to 14. An elderly person died of complications from the disease, and 12 people have been hospitalized.
Meyers ordered the hotel to post signs, notify guests, hire a consultant within 48 hours to assess and initiate remediation actions, and test for Legionella — the bacteria that causes the disease — and report results to health officials.
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An attempt to contact the hotel Sunday night was unsuccessful. It was unclear if it was open.
The order comes after initial results from Centers for Disease Control testing found the bacteria in water sources at the hotel. Hot tubs at The Sands Hotel and the Harris Sea Ranch Motel were closed Friday as a precautionary measure.
“I have issued this order to ensure the health of guests and visitors of the establishment, as well as the health of Hampton residents and visitors,” Meyers said in a statement Sunday evening.
Signs, which will be provided by the health department, must be visible at all entries and at the hotel’s registration desk, according to the order. Health officials also suggested the hotel retain documentation of guests being notified at check-in of the outbreak.
The disease, a form of pneumonia caused by inhaling mist or small drops of water contaminated with Legionella bacteria, can’t be spread through person-to-person contact, or by drinking contaminated water.
Symptoms, which usually show up two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria, include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. State officials recommend people stay vigilant for 14 days.
Most healthy people who are exposed to the bacteria won’t contract the disease, but about 1 in 10 people who contract the infection will die from it, according to the CDC. Legionnaires’ disease is treated with antibiotics and often requires hospitalization.
The health department’s order is in effect until officials are “satisfied” with remediation steps at the hotel to decrease the transmission of the bacteria to the public.
Alejandro Serrano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.