Atlanta Legionella Outbreak May be Biggest in US

Aug 01, 2019 | News

ATLANTA, GA – A recent outbreak of the Legionella bacteria at the Sheraton Hotel in Atlanta could be among the largest in the history of the country. So far, 11 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been confirmed through testing with over 55 “probable” cases linked to the outbreak.

These “probable cases” refer to individuals who have symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, but have yet to confirm through lab testing. The number of probable cases can differ depending on further testing and lab results. 

The Legionella bacteria grows and multiplies in building water systems. It is contracted through inhaling water droplets contaminated with the bacteria. Mild cases result in Pontiac Fever, a  non-fatal respiratory disease with symptoms similar to the flu. In serious cases, contact with Legionella can cause a serious form of pneumonia called Legionnaires disease.

The Georgia State Health Department, along with the Fulton County Board of Health and environmental specialist brought in by the Sheraton Hotel are currently investigating the source of the outbreak. At the time, investigators have yet to determine if the hotel is the source of the Legionnaires’ outbreak.

Earlier in the year, Georgia Health News reported that the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the state has quadrupled in the past 10 years. This mirrors the national trend – Since 2000, cases of Legionnaires’ have increased fivefold in the United States. 

Experts are unsure of the cause behind the increased rates of Legionnaires’ disease in the US. However, it is concluded that the rise is likely related to a combination of factors including: aging population, changes in testing practices, and the increased age of buildings.

Failure to properly maintain your building’s water systems can lead to the spread of the Legionella bacteria and other water-borne illnesses. Tower Water has the resources to help you monitor your buildings water systems. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your cooling tower give Tower Water a call at (800) 669-9636 today!


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