Managers of a resort in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, are cooperating with the state, but also questioning test results that linked their facility to a deadly disease outbreak.
The New Hampshire Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started investigating after 14 cases of Legionnaire’s Disease were reported in the area of Ashworth Avenue, causing the death of one elderly person.
Officials said they detected “legionella bacteria” in multiple sources of the water system at The Sands Resort, including the hot tub, outdoor shower hose and shower heads in three guest rooms.
Steve Nichols said he bought a unit back in 1999, though, today, most are used as motel rooms.
“I’m just concerned that I wasn’t notified sooner,” Nichols said. “Only found out about it Saturday evening when the state compelled the management of the motel to tell us about it.”
“It is a very severe infection, particularly those who are over the age of 50 or have compromised immune systems,” said Dora Anne Mills, vice president for clinical affairs at the University of New England and Maine’s former CDC director.
She said symptoms like a cough, fever and aches typically show up within two to 10 days.
The first known outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease began as a medical mystery.
“It gets its name because of a Legionnaires conference in 1976 in Philadelphia, where several dozen Legionnaires were infected and several of them tragically died,” said Mills.
According to the CDC, nine people who stayed at The Sands since July have been diagnosed. Managers declined an on-camera interview, but released a lengthy statement saying there’s no proof those with the disease got it there.
Managers said they don’t think state officials ran the hot water long enough to get a proper reading of bacteria.
Still, they said, they’re complying with a state order by hiring a consulting team that’s set to arrive Wednesday and have the entire water system flushed by Friday.
Nichols said he’s taking his own precautions,
“I do eat my apples and my oranges and my Vitamin C and that’s supposed to help with that specific issue,” he said. “Healthy as a horse.”
State officials said they took samples from other locations in the affected area, but as of Tuesday evening, there was no word on the results.