Nine guests at a major Atlanta hotel have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia that can lead to life-threatening complications, CNN reported July 23. Medical investigators have yet to identify the cause of the outbreak. No deaths have been reported.
What Is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious and often deadly lung infection caused by the legionella bacteria. First discovered in the mid-1970s, the condition affects between 10,000 and 18,000 Americans every year. Approximately 1 in 10 cases of the disease are fatal.
How Is It Contracted?
You can’t catch Legionnaires’ disease through person-to-person contact; rather, most people get the condition from breathing in mist that contains legionella. The bacteria thrive in warm water and often spread through contaminated water systems. Air conditioning units, hot tubs, swimming pools, and gyms are common breeding grounds for the bacteria if not adequately maintained.
Legionella has not been confirmed at the hotel, but the building has closed down voluntarily until the source of the outbreak is identified and the problem is fixed. "At this time, it remains unknown if the source of the exposure is located within the hotel,” general manager Ken Peduzzi said. “Samples will be collected from various areas of the hotel, including the pool, hot tub, fountain, and chillers."
What Are the Symptoms?
People who are exposed to legionella typically experience flulike symptoms two to 10 days after exposure. They get headaches, muscle pains, chills, and a fever that may top 104 degrees. By the second or third day, the disease will have fully settled in. At this point, patients experience coughing, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If you think you have been exposed to legionella bacteria and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, see a doctor right away. Diagnosing and treating the disease quickly can help shorten the recovery period and prevent serious complications.
Should You Contact an Attorney?
Failure to keep water and cooling systems clean and in good working condition can foster bacterial growth. You may be entitled to compensation if you contracted the disease through an improperly maintained system.
To find out if you are eligible for compensation, contact Morgan & Morgan for a free case evaluation.