TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Health officials have identified a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases in Union County, authorities said Friday.

There are 22 confirmed cases. The disease is being blamed for five deaths, although officials said they were “older adults who had significant medical conditions.”

“This is a continuing investigation. The risk to any resident of, or recent visitor to Union County is very small,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal.  “Out of an abundance of caution, the Department recommends that individuals who live in Union County who become ill with pneumonia-like/respiratory symptoms, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and headache visit their healthcare provider.”

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.