Health officials have reported that a sixth case of Legionnaires’ disease has been linked to the La Quinta Inn at 2979 Millbranch Road in Memphis. Late last week, Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) officials announced that the hotel had been closed indefinitely after five other guests who had stayed there were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia. Our law firm is representing someone sickened.

Legionella Bacteria
Legionella bacteria cause Legionnaires’ disease. Breathing in water mist contaminated with even a few cells of this dangerous pathogen can cause pneumonia.

Shelby Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter announced that the five guests who contracted the dangerous illness stayed at the La Quinta, located near the Memphis International Airport, at some point in August. The Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are now working with the Shelby County Health Department to conduct a multi-state investigation of the outbreak.

Legionnaires’ disease, also known as legionellosis, is contracted when people breathe in water vapor that has been contaminated with Legionella pneumonia bacteria. Although most healthy people who contract legionellosis only experience mild illness, the disease can be life-threatening to the elderly, smokers, those with weakened immune systems, or people who have underlying respiratory illness, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, cancer, or HIV.

Initial symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include a cough, respiratory distress / shortness of breath, high fever (102–105°F), chills, muscle aches, and hallucinations; these symptoms, if left untreated, can then develop into a dangerous pneumonia that only responds to particular antibiotics. It is thus imperative that people who experience these symptoms seek medical attention.

When Legionnaires’ Disease Strikes Hotels

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study that reported that the primary cause of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in the United states are highly preventable water system maintenance deficiencies. Common hotel vehicles for the proliferation of Legionella pneumonia bacteria include hot tubs, swimming pools, hot water heaters, cooling towers, and decorative water features.

When 2 or more people who have stayed at a hotel during the same timeframe contract Legionnaires’ disease, this qualifies as an official outbreak and must be investigated by health officials. If the outbreak is definitively linked to the hotel, victims may have the right to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. If a victim dies, his or her family may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Read “Can I Sue a Hotel for Legionnaires’ Disease?