Deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak has killed one person and sickened 12 others who were all guests at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. On July 15, the hotel evacuated all its guests and remained closed since then.
According to public health officials, a dozen guests had tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, which can cause a severe form of pneumonia. However, according to the attorney filing a lawsuit Monday, there would be hundreds more who have been potentially exposed.
Cameo Garrett, a 49-year-old woman, was already dead by the time guests were evacuated in mid-July. An autopsy report showed that she had coronary issues and Legionnaires’ disease. Garrett was reported to attend a conference at the hotel just a week before she died.
Germany Greer, who was affected with Legionnaires’ disease, said, “I couldn’t sleep. Didn’t want to eat. Couldn’t drink because everything was horrible. I was delirious.” Greer is a 67-year-old photographer who was hired to document the conference at the same hotel. At one point, he had a temperature of 104.5 F and Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital had to keep him for at least four days.
Legionnaires’ is one of the severe forms of pneumonia and one can get sick by inhaling microscopic water droplets containing the bacteria.
Infectious Disease Expert Dr. William Schaffner said, “This is one of those bugs that lives out in the environment amongst us and on occasion it gets into a man-made water system, contaminates it, and it can be very hard to get rid of when that happens.”
At least one in 10 Legionnaires’ victims will die, according to the CDC.
Officials at the Georgia Department of Public Health are now investigating 75 cases, of which, 12 are confirmed and 63 are suspected – all of them were at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel.
In a statement, the hotel said, “Deepest sympathies to all those affected,” adding “a thorough cleaning of the hotel’s entire water distribution system has been completed…including…scrubbing and chlorination.”
However, attorney Chris Stewart said, “Apologies won’t do it in this situation. This is a massive nationwide problem. People don’t know they’re sick yet with Legionnaires’ disease. I mean we literally get a new client every single day.” He said the potential exposure would be in hundreds.
The Sheraton Atlanta Hotel will not reopen until test results show that the threat is completely over. However, the hotel said it would remain closed until Wednesday. The officials are investigating when Sheraton Atlanta guests were exposed to the disease and looking at a window lasting more than a month.