6 cases of Legionnaires’ disease follow visits to downtown Atlanta hotel
Six guests who stayed at a prominent hotel in downtown Atlanta became ill with legionnaires’ disease, prompting a hotel investigation on Monday, authorities said.
“Based on the epidemiological evidence, we have an outbreak among people who stayed at the [Sheraton Atlanta] during the same period,” said Nancy Nydam, communications director of the Georgia Department of Public Health, on Tuesday.
Legionnaires are a serious form of pneumonia that is not contagious. The guests who complained of lung problems and then were diagnosed with legionaries attended a convention at the Atlanta hotel a couple of weeks ago.
The bacteria that cause the legionaries has not been confirmed in the hotel, which has hired external experts to perform the tests.
The hotel voluntarily closed its doors until the source is found and the problem is solved, Nydam said. More than 400 guests have moved to nearby hotels, reported CNN affiliate WSB-TV.
Thousands of infected each year.
A recent government report found that about one in 10 people who become ill from Legionnaires’ disease will die.
The disease infects an estimated 10,000 to 18,000 people in the United States each year. People can get sick when they breathe in the fog or accidentally carry water to the lungs that contain the bacteria that cause the lung infection. It can be treated with antibiotics, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. UU
The hotel’s general manager, Ken Peduzzi, said that “the health and safety of our guests is our highest priority.”
The hotel is working with the state health department and the Fulton County Board of Health and environmental specialists to perform bacterial screening tests, the Georgia Department of Health said.
The Sheraton Atlanta has closed “for a great deal of caution … while we await the results,” Peduzzi said.
“This is the typical way in which these situations are handled, since the evaluation and testing can be complicated,” according to Nydam. The state health department plus “epidemiologists and environmental health personnel from the Fulton County Board of Health will work with them on the next steps of the investigation (technical evaluation, sampling plan and presentation),” he added.
In addition to relocating current guests to nearby hotels, Sheraton is also contacting guests with upcoming reservations “to help direct them to other nearby hotels,” according to Peduzzi.
James Francey, one of more than 400 relocated guests, told WSB: “This is a danger to travel … it’s okay, the CDC is here in the city, that’s great.”