HAMILTON (Mercer) — The state Department of Health confirmed a case of Legionnaire's disease in Mercer County but did not know the source of the illness.

The department said they are aware of a resident of the Alvin E. Gershen Apartments in Hamilton contracting the illness and were investigating the building as a possible source. There were several cases of the disease more than 10 years ago associated with the building off Klockner Road, according to the DOH.

Residents were notified by a letter from building management on Nov. 30, according to The Trentonian

Legionella occurs naturally in fresh-water environments, like lakes and streams. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in building water systems.

People can get sick with Legionnaire's when they breathe in mist or accidentally swallow contaminated water into the lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most people exposed to legionella do not get sick. However, people older than 50, current or former smokers, and people with a weakened immune system or chronic disease are at increased risk.

The CDC said about 1 in 10 people who gets sick from Legionnaire's will die.

The DOH said that residents can continue to use their water as normal because people cannot get the disease by drinking the water. However, residents may want to consider taking baths instead of showers to reduce exposure to aerosolized water. It also cannot be spread person-to-person.

Legionnaire's disease was found in all but three of the 11 schools in the West Orange school district in September.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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