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Sheraton Atlanta Legionnaires Outbreak

Posted in Legionella,Legionnaire's disease,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on July 16, 2019

News of an outbreak of now 10 cases of Legionnaires’ disease and a hotel shut down broke recently as the Georgia Department of Health announced its involvement in an outbreak investigation. Here’s what we know about the Sheraton Atlanta Legionnaires Outbreak:

The Investigation

The state is working in collaboration with the Fulton County Board of Health on this investigation. According to its representative:

“The Georgia Department of Public Health is working with the Fulton County Board of Health to investigate reported cases of Legionella related to the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Atlanta,” said Nancy Nydam with the Georgia Department of Public Health. “The hotel is cooperating in the investigation.”

“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 State Epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek said.

The Shutdown

As of now, the Georgia Department of Public Health states it doesn’t know if the guests contract the disease while actually staying at the hotel. However, hotel officials have closed the facility until the exact cause can be determined.

According to the local media, “[t]he hotel was evacuated with many guests being relocated to a nearby Hilton. A computer conference was taking place at the hotel and some guests tell 11Alive, they weren’t told why they were being moved. ”

What are the Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease?

Many people have never heard of Legionnaires’ disease.  Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia.  It is caused by a bacteria called Legionnella pneumophila. 

The typical symptoms may include:

  • cough that can be either dry or productive (with or without bloody sputum)
  • headache
  • high fever with chills
  • weakness or fatigue
  • muscle aches
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • gastrointestinal issues, such as watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, or nausea
  • lethargy
  • mental status changes (including confusion)

Legionnaires’ disease can also lead to changes in heard rate or a drop in blood pressure.

How do I Know If I Have It?

Only a physician can make a formal diagnosis of Legionnaires’ disease. It is often diagnosed with a chest x-ray to confirm pneumonia followed up with a urine test and culture from sputum (or phlegm) samples.  In some cases, washings from the lung may also be cultured to confirm presence of the deadly bacteria.

Antibiotic treatment is necessary to kill the bacteria growing and thriving in the body. Most cases show antibiotic treatment as quite successful.  Generally healthy people tend to recover easier, but they often still need hospital care.  Others are not so lucky.  About 1 in every 10 infected with Legionnaires’ disease will die due to complications such as lung failure.  Those odds become worse for those who contract Legionnaires’ disease during a hospital stay.  That statistic rises to a whopping 1 in 4.

How Do You Get Legionnaires’ Disease?

You can get Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling water vapor (mist) or aspirating water that contains the legionella bacteria.  When not properly maintained, man-made water systems (like pools, showers, spas, fountains, and cooling towers) provide the warm water temperatures in which legionella bacteria thrive.  When these water systems become contaminated, the water vapor they release can spread legionella bacteria.

“Showerheads, hot tubs, perhaps even some outbreaks in the past have been associated with decorative fountains,” Georgia Department of Health epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek said.

Is There Compensation for Legionnaires’ Disease?

Yes.  If the owner of a building was negligent in failing to properly reduce or prevent the spread of legionella bacteria and this causes a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, then victims of Legionnaires’ disease can pursue a lawsuit against the negligent parties to obtain compensation.

Can A Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyer Help?

Yes.  When a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak resulted from a building owner’s negligence, a Legionnaires’ disease attorney can help to prove that:

  • the building owner failed to follow important safety rules
  • the safety rules exist to prevent legionella bacteria from growing and spreading through the air, where they can get people sick
  • had the building owner followed the important safety rules, no one would have gotten sick with Legionnaires’ disease

The Lange Law Firm

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause food poisoning outbreaks or Legionnaires disease outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits and Legionnaires disease lawsuits.

If you were infected with Legionnaires disease after visiting or near the Sheraton Atlanta hotel, and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663, or send us an e-mail here.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola, Editor (Non-Lawyer)