HAMILTON (Mercer) — Following a cluster of four cases in the summer of 2020, five more reported cases of Legionnaires' disease in this township in the past year, including four since May, have local and state health officials warning residents and multi-unit buliding owners alike about the safety of their water supply.

Three of the nine cases proved fatal, according to a release from the township, the latest being an elderly person who died in August.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Trenton Water Works are currently monitoring Hamilton Township for legionella bacteria, according to the release, and have identified its presence in homes and businesses.

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Officials said the bacteria can be carried into homes by treated drinking water, and offered tips both for single-family homes and multiple-unit housing.

However, state epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan was quoted in the release as saying the water is safe to drink.

Legionnaire's disease, according to Hamilton officials, typically does not spread from person to person but can mimic some of the symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches.

Similarly to COVID, age and history of immune or respiratory issues are increased risk factors for serious illness.

Legionnaire's can be treated with antibiotics, so Hamilton Township is urging anyone who believes they may have been exposed to seek medical attention.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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