August 15, 2019
2 min read

Atlanta hotel outbreak places spotlight on Legionnaires’ disease

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The Sheraton Atlanta Hotel evacuated guests on July 15 due to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed one person and may have infected dozens of others. The hotel has voluntarily remained closed until the source of the outbreak is located, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

A dozen hotel guests have tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, and Georgia health officials are investigating another 63 probable cases tied to the outbreak, but an attorney who filed a lawsuit this week said hundreds may have been exposed, CBS News reported.

Legionella, the cause of Legionnaires’ disease, occurs naturally in freshwater, the CDC notes. But it can cause large outbreaks when it grows and spreads in building water systems. People usually contract Legionnaires’ disease by breathing in airborne water droplets, but they also may be infected by aspirating contaminated water.

According to the CDC, about one in 10 people who contract Legionnaires’ disease will die. The incidence of reported cases quadrupled from 2010 to 2014 in the U.S. Approximately 6,100 cases were reported from health departments in 2016, although that is likely an underestimate, as Legionnaires’ disease often goes undiagnosed and outbreaks can be difficult to identify, according to the CDC.

We compiled a list of articles related to Legionnaires’ disease from the past 3 years. – by Marley Ghizzone

Legionellosis cluster at horse racetrack traced to hot tub

Investigators traced a cluster of legionellosis cases at a horse racetrack in West Virginia to a poorly maintained hot tub in the jockey locker room. Read more.

CDC: Health care-associated Legionnaires’ disease widespread in US

A CDC analysis including data from 20 states and New York City showed that 76% of these jurisdictions reported cases of health care-associated Legionnaires’ disease, which the CDC said is “a concerning finding” given that the disease is particularly severe when acquired in such settings. Read more.

VIDEO: First legionellosis outbreak in New Hampshire in more than 50 years

In this video, Kara Levinson, PhD, MPH, a Laboratory Leadership Service fellow at the CDC, discusses a large legionellosis outbreak that occurred in New Hampshire in August 2018, infecting 34 people and killing two. Watch.

Connecticut river systems associated with higher incidence of legionellosis

Researchers who identified clusters of ZIP codes in Connecticut with a higher than expected incidence of legionellosis found an unexpected relationship between infections and the natural aquatic environments where patients lived. Read more.


Arizona newborns diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after water births

Researchers identified numerous gaps in infection prevention for water births after two Arizona newborns delivered this way were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. Read more.

Disneyland cooling towers linked to Legionnaires’ disease outbreak

Disney shut down two cooling towers at its Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, after health officials notified the company about a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases among people who visited the park. Read more.

Legionella infections linked to device in hospital’s hot water system

Researchers say two patients at a Canadian hospital likely contracted legionellosis from the facility’s contaminated hot water system. An investigation launched after the patients were diagnosed showed a large percentage of water taps in two wings of the hospital were infected with Legionella pneumophila bacteria, as was the energy-conserving heat exchanger used to preheat hot water for one of the wings. Read more.


CBS News. Deadly Legionnaires' outbreak at Atlanta hotel a "nationwide problem," attorney says. Accessed August 13, 2019.