According to health officials, three guests who stayed at prominent Atlanta Hotel have been infected with Legionnaires’ disease, which has prompted an official investigation of the hotel on Monday.
On Tuesday, the directors of communications at Georgia Department of Public Health, Nancy Nydam, said, “Based on epidemiological evidence we have an outbreak among people who stayed at the [Sheraton Atlanta] during the same time period.”
Legionnaires’ disease is contagious and a serious form of pneumonia.
The guests complained of respiratory problems and were later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. They had attended a convention at the hotel a couple of weeks ago.
The pathogenic bacterium that has caused Legionnaires’ disease has not yet been confirmed at the hotel, citing officials to hire outside experts to conduct testing.
Nydam said, “The hotel has voluntarily shuttered its doors until the source of infection is found and remediation is complete More than 400 guests have been relocated to nearby hotels.”
According to a recent federal report, “About one in 10 people who get sick from Legionnaires’ disease will die.”
In the United States alone, the disease infects approximately 10,000 to 18,000 people each year. People catch the infection by breathing in mist or accidentally swallowing water into the lungs containing the bacteria, causing the lung infection. The CDC said Legionnaires’ could be treated with antibiotics.
The hotel has been working with the state health department, Fulton County Board of Health and environmental specialists to conduct tests for the bacteria.
“This is the typical way these situations as handled since the assessment and testing can be complicated. The state health department plus Fulton County Board of Health epidemiologists and environmental health staff will work with them on the next steps in the investigation (technical assessment, sampling plan and submission),” said Nydam.
Patients with Legionnaires’ feel tired and weak. Other common signs and symptoms include coughing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, muscle aches, chest pain, and breathlessness.
According to Legionella.org, Legionnaires’ is described as a severe, often lethal, form of pneumonia, which needs treatment in an intensive care unit. Cherie Drenzek, State Epidemiologist, told WSB, “Past outbreaks have been associated with showerheads, hot tubs, perhaps even decorative fountains. Drenzek added, “Sheraton is also working on the filtration system in the hotel’s swimming pool.”