WEST ORANGE, NJ — Water sources at West Orange Town Hall tested positive for elevated levels of Legionella bacteria, according to the township. It was discovered after a long-time township employee was recently hospitalized with a case of Legionnaires' Disease.
According to a notice prepared by the township, it has not been proven that the employee actually contracted the illness from any municipal building. Another municipal building where the same employee worked was also tested and results were negative. The employee's name, age and job were not immediately released.
“The township is giving this health issue the importance and attention it demands," said Mayor Robert Parisi in a written statement. "We have been assured by outside consultants and experts that by shutting down the potable water supply, installing filters which are being delivered today, replacing the hot water heater which has already been disconnected and making plumbing repairs that the conditions will be remedied and safe. We will ensure that all prescribed remedies are in place as quickly as possible.”
According to the township, the employee became ill about two weeks ago and officials immediately began testing water sources for Legionella bacteria in the two municipal buildings where the employee worked. The tests found that five of 10 samples from Town Hall had "elevated levels" of the bacteria, according to a press release provided by township spokeswoman Susan Anderson.

The township immediately took action to disconnect the potable water supply and began remediation, according to the notice.
Although the tests show elevated levels of bacteria, it is not certain whether the employee contracted the illness at work.
“We are pleased that the employee is making a recovery and are implementing all remedial steps to eliminate the bacteria in question,” said John Sayers, business administrator for the township.
Legionnaires' disease is a severe type of pneumonia that is caused by breathing in water vapor that contains Legionella bacteria, according to Legionella.org.
The township advises those with questions to contact the West Orange Health Department at 973-325-4120 or healthdept@westorange.org.

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