Atlanta Hotel, Source of Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak, Reopens

U.S.|Atlanta Hotel, Source of Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak, Reopens

Bacteria was found on a cooling tower and a fountain in the hotel’s atrium, Georgia public health officials said.


CreditCreditRon Harris/Associated Press

The source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Atlanta that left one woman dead and sickened dozens of other people was a downtown hotel they had visited, Georgia public health officials confirmed this week.

Bacteria was discovered in a cooling tower and a decorative fountain in the atrium of the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health, said on Friday.

“Remediation to the entire hotel water distribution system” has been completed, and testing and sampling of the water at the hotel will continue, Ms. Nydam said.

The hotel reopened Thursday after being cleared by health officials, Andrea Holden, a spokeswoman for Sheraton Atlanta, said in a statement. The hotel voluntarily closed on July 15.

The reopening of the hotel came one week after officials announced that a woman died July 9 after contracting Legionnaires’ disease while staying at the hotel this past summer. The woman, Cameo Garrett, 49, died of coronary artery disease, a condition that was complicated after she contracted Legionnaires’ disease, according to the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office.

On Monday, one man who said he tested positive for the disease filed a lawsuit against the hotel’s management, accusing them of negligence, according to the complaint filed in the state court of Gwinnett County. The man, Germany Greer, 67, said he visited the hotel between June 27 and July 1, according to court documents.

L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Mr. Greer and others affected by the outbreak, said in a statement on Friday that he acknowledged the work done by Georgia public officials to identify the source of the Legionella bacteria, but that Sheraton Atlanta had not addressed how they will “take care” of guests who were “injured and are still suffering” after exposure to the bacteria.

A spokeswoman for the hotel did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

As of Friday, 13 people — including the person who died — had contracted Legionnaires’ disease during the outbreak and 66 “probable” cases have been reported, state officials said.

Legionnaires’s disease is a form of pneumonia. The Legionella bacteria is often found on water fixtures, and people catch the disease by inhaling small droplets of water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 people die after contracting the disease.

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