Investigators gathered in central downtown Atlanta on Tuesday, testing water in pools, fountains, hot tubs and veneers, while looking for what caused the outbreak of the potentially lethal legionary disease.
Three guests who recently stayed at the hotel on Monday gave a positive result for the disease causing serious lung infections. On Tuesday, Georgia's Department of Public Health announced that two more people had a positive result.
Legionella disease is caused by Legionella bacteria, which occur naturally in freshwater environments such as lakes and streams, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, says the agency, it can become a health problem when it grows and spreads to man-made water-based systems.
Climatic devices and fog sprayers in grocery stores are also the first place for bacterial propagation. It can also breed in water fountains and ice machines.
You can not catch legionary disease from person to person contact. Instead, most people get sick when they breathe fog or steam and bacteria penetrate into the lungs.
Andrea Braunstein, a representative of Sheraton Atlanta, said the hotel would be closed for at least two weeks, which is about how long it took for testing and perhaps longer. If the source of water in hotel tests is positive for Legionella, the restoration will take several weeks.
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Sheraton Atlanta shut down voluntarily, said Greek public health spokesperson Nancy Nydam.
"The health and safety of our guests is our top priority," said Sheraton Atlanta General Ken Pedduci. "We work closely with civil servants and external experts to conduct tests to determine if Legionella is present at the hotel. As a result, by abundance of caution, we decided to close the hotel while we expected the results. "
Nidam said on Tuesday that testing for Legionella bacteria in hotels usually starts in pools, hot tubs and water fountains. , the most likely culprits of the bacteria. The investigation may extend far beyond these water sources, extending to the hotel's water supply system, including the plumbing system, she said.
The team of researchers will look for clues-for example, whether all sick guests stay in the same place. floor – which could help in finding the contaminated source.
While testing is not over, health authorities say they can not be sure the hotel is a source of the outbreak, although no other Legionella sites are tested.
It is believed that all five people who are legionnaires were present at the same conference in Sheraton Atlanta.
Nidam said epidemiologists are turning to people who have stayed at the hotel and may have symptoms of respiratory illnesses. These symptoms include cough, fever and muscle pain. Legionnaires' disease may also be associated with other symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and confusion. Symptoms usually begin two to ten days after exposure to the bacteria, but it may take longer. People should monitor the symptoms for about two weeks after the exposure.
This year there are nearly 90 confirmed cases of legionnaires in Georgia, according to the State Department of Public Health. Last year there were 180 confirmed cases and nine suspected cases.
Nidam said guests staying at the hotel between June 12 and July 15 should contact their health care provider if they suffer from respiratory illnesses.
Sheraton worked on Monday to move about 450 guests to nearby hotels. Peduzzi said his staff reached guests with upcoming reservations to help them find other accommodations. Those affected may also call Marriott (the parent company of Sheraton) at 1-888-236-2427 and a reseller may help with overwriting. Guests whose reservations have been canceled will receive a full refund, he said.
One big event that happens is Dragon Con at the end of August and the beginning of September. The hotel was one of the five hosts of the event.
Meanwhile, the CDC is familiar with the local cases of Legionnaires' disease. State and local health authorities have jurisdiction over the epidemics in their state. States may request the CDC to support the investigation when additional expertise, capacity or resources are needed. Since Tuesday night, the agency has not been asked for help.
About one in 10 people who are confronted with Legionnaires' Disease die due to complications from the disease, say the CDC. One out of every four people who face the illness during their stay in a health facility will die because their immune system is already compromised.
The disease was given its name after the outbreak of an American Legion Convention in Philadelphia in 1976. Of the more than 2,000 members attending the convention, 182 have experienced a serious, atypical form of pneumonia, and 29 have died. Support for local journalism. Subscribe to the Atlanta Journal agenda.
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