PASSAIC COUNTY, NJ — State health officials said they are investigating another possible cluster of Legionnaire's disease, after nine Passaic County residents and one Bergen County resident have confirmed cases of the lung infection.
Legionnaire's disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. Symptoms are similar to respiratory diseases like COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold, said state health officials.
The New Jersey Department of Health did not specify where the residents lived, but said the cases were "among individuals residing in neighboring Passaic County municipalities, along with one additional case in a neighboring Bergen County municipality."
This is the same general area that experienced an increase in cases last December, officials added. An investigation into a possible common cause for those cases is still ongoing.
Local health departments are working with the state to determine any potential sources of infection, added officials.
The onset of symptoms for the people with confirmed cases was between May 27 and Aug. 1, said state health officials. The Department of Health received the reports between June 6 and Aug. 4.
Legionnaire's, which is most often caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water, rarely infects healthy people; in general, does not spread from person to person, and is treatable with antibiotics, health officials said. A laboratory test is required for diagnosis.
Water containing Legionella bacteria can come from cooling towers (used in air-conditioning systems for large buildings and industrial purposes), hot tubs, cooling water misters, decorative fountains, and plumbing systems, said the DOH.
Symptoms of Legionnaire's disease can include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle aches, and headache. It can take up to two weeks for symptoms to develop.
"NJDOH recommends that those who develop these symptoms within two weeks of visiting Passaic or Bergen counties seek medical attention," said health officials.
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