Yes, you can get Legionnaires’ disease from a hotel. In fact, the severe form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease got its name from a 1976 outbreak that sickened 200 attendees of an American Legion convention at a Philadelphia hotel killing 29 of them. And, in the four decades that have followed that outbreak, hotels have topped the list of the most common settings for Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.
Why are Hotels a Source of Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks?
Legionnaires’ disease is not spread through person-to-person contact. It occurs when water vapor contaminated with Legionella bacteria is inhaled. And although Legionella occurs in nature, it grows best in warm, stagnant water, especially the water distribution systems of large buildings. So, it’s no coincidence that hotels, hospitals, cruise ships and long-term health care facilities are the most common locations for outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.
A Vital Signs report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in 2016 entitled: Deficiencies in Environmental Control Identified in Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease — North America, 2000–2014, looked at 35 outbreaks between 2000 – 2014. Hotels were the most common setting, with 44 percent of all Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks during that time period occurring at these locations. The bulk of these hotel-based outbreaks, 61 percent, were linked to the potable water supply.
Of the 35 outbreaks evaluated for this study, 23 had sufficient information for researchers to evaluate how deficiencies in water system maintenance contributed to the outbreaks. In 70 percent of the outbreaks, inadequate disinfectant levels were reported. In 52 percent of outbreaks, water temperatures were reported to be in the optimal range for Legionella growth. (Legionella in water will multiply at any temperature between 68° and 122°F, the ideal temperature range falls between 95° and 115°F.)
Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks are Preventable
What does all of this mean?
It means Legionnaire’s disease outbreaks are preventable. Because it has long been known that complex water systems of large buildings are the ideal candidates for Legionella overgrowth, it’s considered an industry standard for large buildings to have a water management plan in place, according to the CDC.
These plans should include a diagram and a written description of how hot water is distributed, where likely problem areas exist and control measures to prevent overgrowth. Controls should include:
- Regularly cleaning of cooling towers with chlorine or another biocide.
- Frequently flushing of water lines.
- Keeping water heaters used in the workplace at 140°F and water temperature at the faucet at122°F (50°C) or higher.
- Preventing water stagnation.
- Using adequate disinfection.
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of an infection include headache, muscle aches, fever, shortness of breath and cough, usually develop within two to 14 days of exposure. These infections are treated with antibiotics. Some people, including current and former smokers, people over 50 and people with compromised immune systems, are all at elevated risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Most people with Legionnaires’ disease require treatment at a hospital. About 10 percent of cases are fatal.
If you have symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, see a doctor right away and mention any possible exposure such as a recent visit to a hospital, hotel, a vacation on a cruise ship or a soak in a hot tub.
If you or a family are part of an outbreak and you need legal help, contact us. Pritzker Hageman Legionnaires’ disease lawyers have decades of experience representing people who have been sickened by Legionella bacteria and families who have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one. Call us for a free consultation at 1(888) 377-8900 (toll-free), text 612-261-0856 or use the form below.
Eleven people who stayed at the Atlanta Sheraton Hotel in June and July of 2019 developed Legionnaires’ disease. The Georgia Department of Public Health believes there may also be up to 55 additional cases.
At least three people were sickened and one person died in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at Christmas Mountain Resort in the Wisconsin Dells.
Four people who stayed at the Crookston Inn and Convention Center between January 22nd and 27th, 2018.in MN developed Legionnaires disease.
Five people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ pneumonia after staying at The SpringHill Suites on 2960 Hoppe Trail in Round Rock, Texas.
Three cases were associated with stays at the Best Western motel in Hannibal, Missouri, in 2015.
The cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel in the Bronx was the source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2015.
A 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak was associated with a stay at the Marriott SpringHill Suites Hotel in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
A 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak was associated with the Super 8 motel in Lacey, WA.
In 2014, 2 people who stayed at Econo Lodge, 145th Street, Ocean City, Maryland, were sickened. s.
In 2014, at least two people developed Legionnaires’ disease after a stay at Sleep Inn & Suites in Millbrook.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)