HAMPTON, New Hampshire (CBS) — The part-owner of the Sands Resort on Hampton Beach wants everyone to know that they are still open for business, even though the signs warning guests about Legionella bacteria found there remain.
There have been 19 cases of Legionnaires’ disease this summer in Hampton, New Hampshire, including one that was fatal. The CDC associates 13 of those cases with Sands Resort.
“Our heart goes out for the people that got sick here in the Hampton Beach community, It’s not good for anybody to be sick,” said part-owner Tom Saab.
He and environmental expert Dr. John Murphy maintained that the outbreak was a “community-wide event” not limited to the Sands Resort. “We sort of kind of got thrown under the bus if you know what I mean,” Saab said.
“The elderly gentlemen from New York who passed away of complications on pneumonia, we don’t know all the details but we were informed by DHHS that that gentleman did not live here at the Sands, did not rent here at the Sands, did not reserve a room here at the Sands, did not stay here at the Sands, and DHHS has made that clear. I wish they had made that clear to us a while back but they just made it clear to us last week,” said Saab.
Sands Resort brought in expert Dr. John Murphy to conduct their own testing after being called out by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on September 2. The focus is the hot tub area — where swabs came back with positive results for the bacteria.
The water in the hot tub was cleaned twice a week, said Saab, who maintained that while the swabs may have been positive for the bacteria, the water was clean. The hot tub is now closed.
The resort complied with the DHHS and has since gone through a sterilization process.
Murphy doesn’t dispute the initial findings but preferred a more in-depth form of testing which includes looking at cultures.
He explained, on September 12, a total of 34 test results from the DHHS came back and one from the shower faucet in a guest bedroom had legionella. Then, there were eight or nine samples from the hot tubs and “most of those were positive when cultured. So it appears that if there was a problem with contamination in the water systems it was localized to the hot tub. The hot tub was taken out of service, I believe on August 23.”
“Following the completion of those sterilization tasks, a set of 43 water and swab samples were taken from various parts of the system throughout the building,” Murray said. “The results for the samples that we collected were actually provided to us by the lab on Monday of this week and of the 43 samples that were collected none were positive for legionella by culturing.”
The expert also said the chances of someone contracting the disease from a contaminated hot tub by just walking past it was not “plausible.”
“It’s often found that the source of the problem is not what was initially imagined to be the case,” said Murphy.
The NHHS released a statement Wednesday saying, in part, “Water samples taken from the Sands Resort hot tub grew the same strain of Legionella bacteria that was isolated from a patient diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and who reported staying at the Sands Resort. Testing by the CDC has not revealed any other source for the disease outbreak and no new cases have been identified in Hampton since the Sands’ hot tub was closed.”