TRENTON — The bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease has been detected in the water of homes in several municipalities served by Trenton Water Works and state officials are urging residents to take precautions to protect themselves.

Five cases of Legionnaires' disease, including one death, have been reported in Hamilton since December 2021, according to the state Department of Health. The most recent case was reported last month.

In September, the health department conducted testing at 30 homes in Hamilton. The tests found Legionella in half of the surveyed homes.

The health department made its findings public on Saturday. It comes after the state announced a takeover of Trenton Water Works last week.

READ MORE: NJ DEP intervenes at water utility after neighboring towns complain

The water utility serves more than 200,000 residents throughout Mercer County including those in Trenton, Ewing, Hamilton, and sections of Lawrence and Hopewell.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia. Symptoms can include cough, fever, muscle aches, and headaches.

"Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal but is treatable with antibiotics. It is important that anyone who thinks they have symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease contact their health care provider and seek medical evaluation immediately," the health department said in a statement.

Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora's Office did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

The state recommends taking the following steps to decrease the risk of exposure:

— Avoid high-risk activities. If you are at an increased risk for Legionnaires’ disease, consider avoiding hot tubs, decorative fountains, power washing, or similar activities, which may generate increased amounts of aerosols or mist.
— Maintain in-home medical equipment.
— Clean and/or replace your showerheads and faucet aerators (screens) per manufacturer’s instructions whenever buildup is visible.
— Keep your water heater set to a minimum of 120 degrees
— Conduct routine flushing.
— Follow manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining your water heater and expansion tank, including periodic flushing, draining, and removal of sediment.
— Clean and/or replace all water filters per manufacturer’s instructions.
— Drain garden hoses and winterize hose bibs.
— Follow manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining your hot tub.
— Operate and maintain your indoor and outdoor decorative fountains according to manufacturer’s instructions to limit your exposure to Legionella.
— Remove, shorten, or regularly flush existing dead legs.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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