- Department of Public Health
The outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Hampton, NH has generated concern about the disease in Massachusetts. While this outbreak appears to be linked to a common source of infection, isolated cases of Legionnaire’s disease do not pose a general public health concern. States throughout the New England region are seeing increased numbers of these sporadic cases, likely due to the warm, humid weather we are experiencing this summer. These weather conditions support the growth of Legionella, the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease, which is found naturally in fresh water.
Legionella is not transmitted person-to-person. It is contracted by breathing in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria. Most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick. However, people 50 years or older, current or former smokers, and people with a weakened immune system or chronic disease are at increased risk. Signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can range from mild flu-like symptoms to pneumonia and may include a cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches. DPH investigates all suspected clusters of cases to determine if there is a common source of infection. No clusters of cases have been identified in Massachusetts to date this season.
For more information about Legionnaires’ disease, visit https://www.mass.gov/service-details/legionellosis-legionnaires-disease.