Health expert weighs in on possible Legionella bacteria exposure
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WENY) -- The New York State Department of Health is warning of potential bacteria exposure at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. Officials say guests who stayed between July 16th and August 1st of this year and who were close by the hotel's pool and spa may have been exposed to Legionella bacteria.
Related: NYSDOH warns of possible Legionella exposure at Watkins Glen hotel
If untreated, the bacteria can cause a serious form of pneumonia, called Legionnaire's disease.
But catching it, health experts say, is rare.
"You literally have to breathe in the water particles, which makes it a little more uncommon," says Marcia Kasprzyk, Director of Public Health in Schuyler County. "It's the same as any other pneumonia. Sometimes the trick is knowing you've been exposed to even think of [getting] tested."
The state department is working closely with the Harbor Hotel to alert any guests who may have stayed during that time frame.
Health experts say pneumonia like symptoms usually start 2 to 10 days after being exposed to Legionella, but some could take longer. That includes a cough, muscle aches or nausea.
While it cannot be spread from person to person, some are at a higher risk.
"[The] same people who we would target for the flu," says Kasprzyk. "If you've got chronic diseases, you're over a certain age, anything where your immune system is compromised. you're at a greater risk of catching it."
As of right now, this case has yet-to-be confirmed but this would not be the first time our area has faced Legionaires' Disease. Back in 2008, a dozen Elmira residents were affected by the sickness, and one person was killed. The problem was traced by to a hot water heater at Flannery Apartment.
WENY News reached out to management at the Harbor Hotel for comment but our our call was not returned.
More information: Legionnaires' Disease and Legionella