Two guests who stayed at the WorldMark Kapaa Shore Resort on the island of Kauai, Hawaii have contracted Legionnaire’s Disease, prompting temporary closure of the resort. A third possible case is being investigated.
According to a representative of Wyndham Resorts (which owns the luxury island facility),
“Recently, the Kapaa Shore Resort received confirmation that the presence of Legionella bacteria was found in two units at the resort … As a precautionary measure, we are temporarily closing the resort and relocating owners and guests to nearby properties so that we can properly remediate and get the resort back in operation quickly.” (1)
In a statement released to Hawaii News Now, Hawaii’s Department of Health spokesperson Janice Okubo explained that two resort guests who vacationed at the WorldMark Kapaa Shore Resort between late April and early May contracted the disease, subsequently recovering in their home states. The suspected third case still has not been confirmed by health officials.
Legionnaire’s disease is a severe type of pneumonia that can be deadly when it is contracted by people older than 50, smokers, or people with underlying medical conditions like respiratory illness, cancer, diabetes, or HIV. Its symptoms include headache, muscle pain, fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, chest pains, and confusion / hallucinations.
The CDC noted in a recent report (2), LD cases have quadrupled both in the United States and worldwide over recent years, due primarily to inadequately maintained and tested water systems at hotels, hospitals, and long-term residential care facilities.
Hotel owners have known of the dangers posed by unmaintained water and cooling systems ever since the first recognized case of Legionnaires’ disease killed 25 guests and hospitalized over 130 people at Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in 1976.
When two or more people who have stayed at the same hotel at around the same time contract Legionnaires’ disease, health officials are called upon to investigate if that hotel has become the source of an outbreak. Inspectors will examine and sample its potable water systems, cooling towers, water heaters and storage tanks, whirlpool spas, and other water features to ascertain whether dangerous Legionella pneumonia bacteria has proliferated in a system.
If environmental testing isolates a serotype of the Legionella bacteria that matches that found via a culture in guests who contracted Legionnaires’ disease, then this can be used as evidence in a lawsuit against the hotel.
Recent cases of hotel-acquired Legionnaires’ disease include:
- Best Western Hotel in Hannibal, Missouri
- Opera House Hotel in the South Bronx, New York City;
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Altamonte, Florida;
- Super 8 in Lacey, Washington.
- “Legionnaires’ Disease close Hawaii Resort.” HawaiiNewsNow. Web. 13 Jun. 2016.
- Garrison LE, Kunz JM, Cooley LA, et al. Vital Signs: Deficiencies in Environmental Control Identified in Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease — North America, 2000–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 7 June 2016. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6522e1