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

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a loved one were sickened in this Sheraton Atlanta outbreak, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Sheraton Atlanta continues to get worse, as the first death was reported.

Autopsy results for Cameo Garrett of suburban Decatur, about 7 miles east of downtown Atlanta, listed the cause of death as “coronary artery atherosclerosis aggravated by Legionella pneumonia.” The 49-year-old woman died July 9, shortly after attending Syn-Lod 2019, the Top Ladies of Distinction Inc. Conference, which was held at the Sheraton from June 26 to July 2. Garrett did not lodge at the Sheraton Atlanta, she merely attended the conference.

Nancy Nydam, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), said Garrett is one of 12 lab-confirmed cases from the outbreak. Six more “probable” cases have been identified, however, increasing that number to 61. (Lab testing has not confirmed the “probable” cases, which include people who had illnesses consistent with Legionnaires’ disease, such as pneumonia.)

The source of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, has yet to be located or connected definitively to the hotel. No other locations, however, are being investigated.

DeKalb County medical examiner Pat Bailey said it was possible that Garrett could have died from the heart disease even without the infection but had no chance under the additional strain of Legionnaires’ disease.

Atlanta outbreak: symptoms

“She was having stomach problems; intestinal problems,” Al Garrett, Cameo’s father, told WSB-TV.

Terri Lewis, a friend of Cameo Garrett’s, told 11 Alive WXIA-TV that she had been complaining about not feeling well. Lewis said Garrett said her stomach was bothering her and that she had a fever.

Al Garrett and Lewis found Cameo dead in her home on July 9 when performing a welfare check after not hearing from her for five days.

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

  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • chills and fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pains (pleurisy or pleuritis)
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Atlanta outbreak: severe complications

According to the World Health Organization, Legionnaires’ death occurs through progressive pneumonia with respiratory failure or shock and multi-organ failure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has its headquarters in Atlanta, estimates that one out of every 10 people who get sick with Legionnaires’ disease will die due to complications from the illness.

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

High-risk categories
Anyone can contract Legionnaires’ 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 (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, most commonly emphysema or bronchitis)
  • people with weakened immune systems.

Numerous complications
After the disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is almost always necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can develop, such as:

  • respiratory failure: caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
  • septic shock: This can occur when Legionella produce toxins that enter the bloodstream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to the loss of adequate blood supply to the organs.
  • kidney failure: Those same Legionella toxins can damage the kidneys’ ability to eliminate waste from the blood.
  • endocarditis: an infection of the inner lining of the heart that can affect its ability to maintain adequate blood flow through the body.
  • pericarditis: swelling of the pericardium, which is the primary membrane around the heart. This also can affect the ability of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body.

Treated with antibiotics
Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person. The condition is treatable with antibiotics (medicines that kill bacteria in the body) when diagnosed early enough, although if that does not occur, it can lead to complications.

Atlanta outbreak: officials proactive

“Sheraton Atlanta continues to work closely with public health officials and environmental experts to determine if the hotel is the source of the Legionella outbreak,” read a statement released by Ken Pedruzzi, general manager of the Sheraton Atlanta. “Testing of the property happened last week, and the hotel has voluntarily moved ahead with precautionary remedial activities while awaiting results. The health and safety of our employees and guests is our top priority. Sheraton Atlanta remains closed until at least August 11 (Sunday). ”

The hotel voluntarily closed July 15, the date that the first three cases were confirmed.

According to Georgia health officials, Garrett’s death increases the state total to seven people who have died from Legionnaires’ disease this year.