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Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak has shut down the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel after at least five guests were diagnosed with the potentially deadly respiratory illness.
The Sheraton Atlanta, which is located at 165 Courtland Street NE in downtown Atlanta, has been closed for precautionary reasons while an investigation is conducted into the outbreak. The Fulton County Board of Health (BOH) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) are working jointly with hotel officials to determine the source of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, an atypical pneumonia.
“The health and safety of our guests is our greatest priority,” Sheraton general manager Ken Peduzzi said in a written statement. “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 hotel is expected to be closed for at least two weeks until testing is completed. No other locations are being investigated.
The individuals sickened were guests at the hotel in late June and early July. It is believed all were attending the same conference at the hotel.
Hotel officials learned of the first two cases last Friday. Three additional cases have since been confirmed, and one news source reported that six people have been sickened.
Sheraton Atlanta: pool area closed
On advice from DPH epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek, the hotel immediately closed off the pool area, which is considered the most likely source of Legionella.
“Because they (the guests) were so tightly clustered, we made some immediate control recommendations,” Drenzek said to 11Alive.com. “To be cautious, to be conservative – let’s close down those water fixtures so that we’re not posing anyone else to be at risk of Legionella infections.”
Sheraton Atlanta: about Legionnaires
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection that – according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the U.S. yearly. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms.
Legionella are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:
- water systems of large buildings (hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.)
- swimming pools, whirlpools, hot tubs
- large plumbing systems
- air-conditioning system cooling towers
- hot-water heaters and tanks
- bathroom showers and faucets
- physical-therapy equipment
- mist machines and hand-held sprayers
- decorative fountains.
Warm, stagnant water provides the right conditions for growth of Legionella, which can multiply at temperatures between 68 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sheraton Atlanta: guests relocated
About 450 guests were relocated to nearby hotels Monday after hotel officials decided to close the hotel. Guests with future reservations will be assisted in finding other accommodations.
The DPH is contacting every person who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta in June and July. Drenzek also issued an alert to health departments in other states to be on the lookout for Legionnaires cases that might have originated at the Sheraton Atlanta.
Sheraton Atlanta: disease symptoms
The DPH recommends that guests, visitors to, or employees of the Sheraton Atlanta who are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms seek care from their health-care provider. Symptoms usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, and they frequently begin with:
- muscle pains
- fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:
- cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
- shortness of breath, also called dyspnea
- chest pains, also called pleurisy
- gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- confusion and other mental changes.
Anyone can get the disease, but those at the most significant risk of infection include:
- people 50 or older
- smokers (current or former)
- heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
- people with chronic lung disease, such as COPD (most commonly, bronchitis or emphysema)
- people with weakened immune systems.
Sheraton Atlanta: busy August
The Sheraton Atlanta is one of five host hotels for the 33rd Annual Dragon Con, the largest convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, comics, literature, art, music, and film, slated to take place Aug. 29 to Sept. 2.
More than 80,000 visitors are expected to pass through the Sheraton Atlanta throughout Labor Day weekend
Dragon Con organizers said they are working with the hotel’s management to “understand the situation, the solutions, and the timeframes involved.” Organizers said they are optimistic the hotel will be fully operational by Aug. 29.