Bacteria from an Upscale Spa in New Hampshire Ends One Life and Hospitalizes Another

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Jan 26, 2024

In northern New Hampshire sits the majestic Mountain View Grand Hotel & Spa. And while the giant luxury hotel is typically known for its beautiful rooms and picturesque views, it’s making headlines for a much different reason this week. 

Sadly, one person has passed away and another was hospitalized after using the hotel’s hot tub last year after being exposed to Legionella bacteria, which was hiding in the filter. 

What Is Legionella Bacteria?

To fully grasp what happened to the two guests at the Mountain View Grand Hotel & Spa, it’s first important to understand what Legionella bacteria is and what it can do to the body. 

Magnified photograph of Legionella bacteria

Source: NHI

Legionella is a water or airborne bacteria which, when ingested, can cause flu-like symptoms, fever, pneumonia or other respiratory diseases, or even Legionnaires disease, which can be fatal.

Legionella Disease Statistics

While most people who come in contact with Legionella bacteria will experience fevers, lethargy, headaches, or even pneumonia over the course of two weeks, for some, it’s much worse. 

Medical professional examining a lung x-ray

Source: Freepik

In fact, 10% of people who contract the disease will die from complications, and that number increases to 30% for those who have a weak immune system or existing respiratory issues. 

How Is Legionella Bacteria Contracted?

Legionella bacteria is often found in stagnant or hot water, and the most common form of contraction is through breathing in vapor or water droplets, during which time the bacteria infect the lungs. 

Empty indoor hot tub

Source: Freepik

Therefore, a hot tub that has hot and stagnant water, as well as bubbles that release significant vapors into the air, is extremely susceptible to having and dispensing the bacteria.

Barbara Kruschwitz Sadly Passed Away after Being Infected by the Bacteria

Barbara Kruschwitz of Merrimac, Massachusetts, was 71 years old when she went to the Mountain View Grand for a getaway with her husband, Henry, in October 2023. 

Barbara Kruschwitz of Merrimac, Massachusetts

Source: @WhittierRehabilitationHospitalBradford/Facebook

Just a week after her stay, she was hospitalized and diagnosed with Legionnaires disease. And, tragically, she died within just a few days. 

Another Guest at the Hotel Was also Infected

Although they have chosen to remain anonymous, it is public knowledge that another guest of the hotel who visited from Rhode Island in December 2023 also became seriously ill due to Legionella bacteria.

Person holding the hand of a patient in the hospital

Source: Freepik

Fortunately, they survived, but they were hospitalized due to severe symptoms. After the second case was reported, it became clear that the two victims had visited the Mountain View Grand, and an investigation began immediately.


The Investigation Begins

They first noted that the two guests who were hospitalized for Legionella infections stayed at the hotel at different times and were in different rooms. 

Dr. Benjamin Chan from The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Source: @Rob Strong/Dartmouth Medicine

Dr. Benjamin Chan from The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said that because the two guests had no other connection than staying in the hotel, it proved challenging to pinpoint where they would have contracted the bacteria.


The New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services Started Testing the Water

The Mountain View Grand Hotel & Spa has several water features, including two pools and a complimentary hot tub in the spa, as well as the water used for bathing and drinking in the rooms that needed to be checked for Legionella bacteria. 

Mountain View Grand Hotel & Spa indoor pool

Source: @Mountain View Grand/Facebook

After their investigation, the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services found “a trace level of Legionella bacteria in the property’s hot tub filter.” And that “The indoor hot tub, when operational, was a self-contained system and the trace amount of Legionella was isolated from the rest of the property.”


The CDC Recommends Testing Chlorine Levels Regularly

It’s important to note that all water features, such as pools and hot tubs, are susceptible to bacterial growth. The only way to combat this issue is by ensuring the water has ample chlorine to kill any rogue pathogens or germs. 

Chlorine testing kit next to a hot tub

Source: Freepik

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that chlorine levels are regularly assessed by anyone who has a hot tub or pool. So, it could have been that the Mountain View Grand simply didn’t have the correct amount of chlorine in their hot tub.


The Hotel Hot Tub Has Since Been Drained and Cleaned

Immediately after they detected trace amounts of Legionella bacteria, the hot tub at the hotel was “drained, closed, and eliminated,” and “there are no plans to reopen it,” said the New Hampshire DPHS.

Woman testing the water of a hot tub

Source: Freepik

The DPHS also noted that “Mountain View will continue to work closely with the DPHS to ensure the health and safety of [their] guests.”


No One Knows for Sure How the Bacteria Got into the Hot Tub

There is no way to know for sure how the Legionella bacteria got into the hotel hot tub. It is possible that it was brought in by someone who had been swimming in contaminated fresh water.

Small river in the forest

Source: Freepik

But, since the two incidents were over a month apart, it is clear that there was some negligence by the hotel, as the correct amount of chlorine would have killed the bacteria during that time.


The Mountain View Grand Hotel & Spa Is Still a Safe Place to Stay

Throughout the comprehensive investigation of all water at the Mountain View Grand Hotel & Spa, traces of the bacteria were only found in the now-shut-down hot tub. 

Couple in the spa at the Mountain View Grand Hotel & Spa

Source: @Mountain View Grand/Facebook

And as the hotel is now paying extremely close attention and continuing to test the water in its pools and faucets, Mountain View wants to make it clear that the hotel is still a perfectly safe place to stay.