NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Health officials in Newark are investigating a suspected outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at an apartment building for senior citizens.

Three cases have been confirmed at the building on Nevada Court.

The owner told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas he was contacted by the health department Wednesday.

Legionnaires’ is a type of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria. Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches and cough.

The bacteria is spread through small droplets of water, like steam coming from your shower, faucets or humidifiers. It’s not spread person to person.

Resident James Davis said there was an emergency meeting late Thursday night and now that he knows more about the disease, he’s not overly concerned.

“It’s nothing where somebody can touch me or somebody can cough on me or through sexual contact, it’s not about that,” he told Cline-Thomas. “Somebody said something about the water, and the doctor said, ‘no, no, no, we’re not talking about the water, per se, we’re talking about the vapor.'”

Health officials met with building managers Friday to determine the cause and figure out the next steps. Another emergency meeting was planned for 1 p.m.

“We don’t know yet until the testing, we don’t know what it’s going to be. We have to go from there,” said resident Willie Martin. “But we hope everything will turn out OK.”

“How long has it been like that, you know?” resident Rashid Lee wondered. “That’s a good question.”

“I’m very concerned, very. My level is 10, I guess you can say, maybe 100,” another woman added.

The health department recommends people over the age of 50 – especially smokers and those with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems – contact their doctor and the follow these additional steps:

“Consider taking a bath instead of a shower, since a shower could create a water mist. Try to minimize your time in the bathroom while the tub is filling.

It is fine to brush your teeth, wash your hands, or wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating mist.

It is fine to drink cold water from the tap but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee, or cooking. You cannot get Legionnaires’ disease by drinking water.”

Legionnaires’ can typically be treated with antibiotics. For more information, click here.


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