Sickened in Sheraton Atlanta outbreak? Call (612) 337-6126

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or someone you know was sickened in this Sheraton Atlanta outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

The Sheraton Atlanta outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease exploded as health officials announced the addition of 55 probable cases to go along with 11 confirmed cases – and that number will undoubtedly continue to grow.

Surveillance by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Fulton County Board of Health (FCBOH) helped uncover the suspected cases. Epidemiologists reviewed hundreds of survey responses from individuals who were guests of or visited the Sheraton Atlanta during the exposure period (June 12 to July 15).

The survey information also helps health officials understand where people were in the hotel as those officials try to pinpoint the source of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease.

The “probable” cases have not been confirmed in a lab but involve people with illnesses consistent with Legionnaires’ disease, such as pneumonia and flu.

About one in 10 people who come down with Legionnaires’ disease will die due to complications from the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To date, there have been no fatalities connected to this outbreak.

Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: timeline
  • July 15: DPH confirms three cases connected to Sheraton Atlanta, and hotel officials announce that they are voluntarily closing the hotel until at least Aug. 11.
  • July 17: Three more cases are identified, increasing the number sickened to six.
  • July 22: Case count grows again as three more illnesses are announced.
  • July 24: The tally reaches double digits as the 10th case is diagnosed.
  • July 26: An 11th case is confirmed.
  • July 30: DPH announces 55 probable cases connected to the outbreak, but no new confirmed cases.

Because Legionella has not been found yet, officials can’t confirm the hotel as the source. However, no other locations are being investigated or tested.

The Sheraton Atlanta, located on Courtland Street, is the sixth-largest hotel in Atlanta with 763 rooms. The hotel shut down voluntarily “out of an abundance of caution,” and for environmental testing. The first samples were collected July 11, and a second round of testing was completed July 29.

Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: likely sources

Legionella 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.)
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers, like those used on large buildings such as hotels
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • swimming pools, whirlpools, hot tubs
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.
Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: ‘thousands’ contacted

Officials for the state of Georgia are contacting thousands of people who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta in June and July.

“If an individual, for example, has attended a conference at that hotel, we reach out to the conference organizers to see if they’ve heard of anyone,” said Cherie Drenzek, the state epidemiologist.

Some conferences that took place at the Sheraton Atlanta during the exposure period, but not a complete list, include:

  • Ranger Stop & Pop Con, June 21-23
  • National Adoption Conference, June 25-27
  • 41st Syn-Lod and the 50th Anniversary of Top Teens of America, June 26-July 2
  • Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America National Conference, July 4-6.
Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: be wary

State health officials are advising that if you were a guest, visitor, or employee at the Sheraton Atlanta during the exposure period and you are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should visit your health-care provider.

The DPH said that when seeking treatment, individuals should tell their health-care professional that they stayed at a hotel with a Legionella outbreak. This can help with proper treatment and assist with the investigation.

Even if you’ve visited the hotel more recently, if you’re exhibiting the symptoms below since your visit, you should seek medical attention to be safe.

Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:

  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, other signs and symptoms develop, including:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although the disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart.

Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person. The condition is treatable with antibiotics when diagnosed early enough, although if that does not occur, it can lead to severe complications.

A mild form of Legionnaires’ disease known as Pontiac fever may produce similar symptoms, including a fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. Pontiac fever, however, doesn’t infect the lungs.

Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: high risk

“Legionnaires’ disease is not caused by a vaccine-preventable bug. It’s not a vaccine-preventable disease, and it’s not a communicable infectious disease,” Allison Chamberlain of the Emory Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research told the Augusta Chronicle. “While most people won’t get sick, those with underlying respiratory issues or perhaps those who are immuno-compromised are at greater risk.”

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the highest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.