An Atlanta hotel has shut down because of a breakout of Legionnaires’ disease. The disease, which is a rare type of pneumonia, caused Atlanta’s downtown Sheraton to close its doors so officials can run tests on the hotel.
According to WSB-TV, three confirmed cases of the disease may have been derived from the hotel.
Ken Peduzzi, the general manager of the Sheraton released the following statement:
The health and safety of our guests is our greatest priority. We are working closely with public health officials and outside experts to conduct testing to determine if Legionella is present at the hotel. As a result, out of an abundance of caution we have made the decision to close the hotel while we await the results. The Sheraton Atlanta is currently working to relocate its guests to nearby hotels. It is also reaching out to guests with upcoming reservations to assist in directing them to other nearby hotels. Guests whose reservations have been canceled will receive a full refund.
According to WSB-TV, more than 400 guests have been relocated from the hotel.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Guests Who Were Planning on Staying at the Hotel Are Happy Their Safety Is a Top Priority
Of the 400 guests who had to be relocated, many of them are happy the way the hotel has managed the outbreak.
“Safety first, inconvenience later … we would like to be here and have everything go as planned, but the most important thing is everyone’s health,” Marilyn Wilson told WSB-TV. “It’s concerning. No one wants to go on vacation and come back sick.”
Wilson made her reservations at the hotel months ago, as she was planning on being in the Georgia city for a family reunion.
“My first thought is should I be breathing in here. And then my second thought is, I need to find another hotel,” guest James Francey told WSB-TV. “This a hazard of travel … so OK it happens. The CDC is here in town, so that’s great.”
The hotel is relocating guests as well as canceling all previously made reservations and redirecting them to other hotels.
2. Legionnaires’ Disease Can Be Contracted by Breathing in Water Affected by Bacteria
According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease can be found living in freshwater environments, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports.
Lakes and streams are common places to find the bacteria, but it becomes much more dangerous when it multiplies and spreads through human-made water systems. The bacteria can find its way into showerheads, sink faucets, plumbing systems and decorative fountains and water features.
Officials are working on making sure the swimming pool at the hotel wasn’t affected by the disease.
“They have a beautiful swimming pool and it’s shut down right now. They say they’re working on the filtration system. Maybe they haven’t made the linkage,” Georgia epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek told WSB-TV.
3. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease Begin When a Patient Starts to Feel Tired & Weak
According to educational organization Legionella.org, patients who have contracted the disease begin to show symptoms of fatigue and weakness.
Other symptoms include coughing, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches, muscle aches, chest pain and shortness of breath. Symptoms can take anywhere from 2 to 10 days to show after a person has contracted the disease.
Luckily, the disease is not contagious, per Legionella.org.
4. About One & 10 People Who Contract Legionnaires’ Disease Will Die
According to a recent study done by the CDC, about one and 10 people who contract the disease will pass away.
Legionella.org states that between 10,000 to 18,000 people will contract the disease each year.
“Legionnaires’ disease is a severe, often lethal, form of pneumonia. It’s caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila found in both potable and nonpotable water systems. Each year, an estimated 10,000 to 18,000 people are infected with the Legionella bacteria in the United States,” the website states.
According to CNN, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the disease can be treated with antibiotics.
5. The Disease Got Its Name When There Was a Breakout in 1976 at an American Legion Convention in Philadelphia
According to the AJC, Legionnaires’ disease got its name when 2,000 members of the American Legion attended a 1976 convention and 186 caught the disease. 29 people died from the atypical form of pneumonia.
The disease was also known as “Pontiac Fever,” as researchers were able to connect the 1976 outbreak with the “Pontiac Fever” outbreak in 1968 in Pontiac, Michigan.
It wasn’t until 1976 when officials realized both occasions were caused by the same strain of bacteria, per the AJC.
If the disease is serious enough, most people who come down with it can be treated in an intensive care unit, according to CNN.