ATLANTA — Downtown’s Sheraton Atlanta has been confirmed as the source of a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak that has already claimed one life. State public health department officials said Thursday Legionella bacteria was in the hotel’s cooling tower and in a decorative fountain inside the Sheraton.
The Georgia Department of Public Health has already confirmed there could be up to 55 sicknesses related to the outbreak. Since the first cases of Legionnaires’ disease were confirmed several weeks ago, state and Fulton County epidemiologists have been reviewing hundreds of survey responses from individuals who stayed at or visited the Sheraton Atlanta between June 12 and July 15, 2019. The surveys help identify people who may have been ill, especially those with severe illness like pneumonia. The survey responses are also analyzed to compare activities at the hotel between the people who did become sick and the people who did not.
The hotel has remained closed since the first sicknesses were reported last month.
Legionnaires’ disease is a very serious type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain Legionella. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath.
Legionnaires’ disease requires treatment with antibiotics, and most cases of this illness are treated successfully. Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 years or older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease or weak immune systems may be at increased risk of getting sick if they are exposed to the bacteria.
Read: Legionnaires’ Disease Count At Atlanta Hotel Rises
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