CLARK, NJ - There have been three confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in nearby Clark, according to Mayor Sal Bonaccorso. These are part of the 22 cases in total in Union County in the last few months that have led to five deaths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) caused by Legionella bacteria. People can get sick when they breathe in mist or accidently swallow water containing the bacteria. Most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick. However, people age 55+, current or former smokers, and people with a weakened immune system or chronic disease are at increased risk. People at increased risk are encouraged to seek immediate medical care if they experience fever, shortness of breath, cough, pneumonia-like symptoms.
"I want residents to understand there is no need to panic. We are... working with the CDC and taking it extremely seriously,” said Bonaccorso. “The good thing is this is curable with antibiotics, so it’s important to get medical attention if experiencing flu-like symptoms.”
According to a release from the New Jersey Department of Health, no definitive link has been identified between the cases, but the reported exposures appear to be geographically clustered. The NJDOH is working in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control to determine the source of the disease, conduct environmental investigations, take samples for Legionella, and make recommendations for environmental remediation.