WEST ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Water sources at West Orange Town Hall tested positive for elevated levels of Legionella bacteria after a longtime township employee was recently hospitalized with a case of Legionnaires' Disease.
Authorities say it has not been proven that the employee actually contracted the illness from any municipal building, and another municipal building where the same employee worked was also tested and results were negative. Regardless, the township is moving forward to test its other buildings.
The illness was diagnosed approximately two weeks ago, and the test results determined that five of the 10 samples in the municipal building have elevated levels of the bacteria.
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The potable water supply has been disconnected, and remedial steps are being implemented on an immediate basis. It is not proven that the employee actually contracted the illness from any municipal building. Another municipal building where the same employee worked was also tested and results were negative.
"We are pleased that the employee is making a recovery and are implementing all remedial steps to eliminate the bacteria in question," Business Administrator John Sayers said.
The employee's name, age and job were not immediately released.
On Friday afternoon, the city announced an environmental company had successfully installed hospital-approved filters on all public water sources at the Municipal Building. Officials said outside medical experts agreed the public water supply is now fully safe for use and consumption.
As to all other West Orange municipally-owned public buildings, testing will begin next week.
"No information exists that any other buildings are subject to the bacteria, but, as a precaution, the Township is testing our other Township owned facilities," Mayor Robert Parisi said.
Test results are expected to take approximately two weeks and will be made available to the public.
Legionnaires' disease is a form of bacterial pneumonia., with the elderly and those with other medical issues at the highest risk. The disease is potentially fatal, but it can be effectively treated with an early diagnosis.
People contract Legionnaires' disease by breathing in water vapor that contains bacteria. It is not transmitted from person to person.
Adults with flu-like symptoms, cough, fever or difficulty breathing should contact a physician immediately.
Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia that is caused by the bacteria Legionella, which grows in warm water. Symptoms resemble other types of pneumonia and can include fever, chills, muscle aches, and cough. Most cases of Legionnaires' disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.
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West Orange investigates case of Legionnaires' Disease
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