Officials Suspect 55 Cases Of Legionnaires' Disease In Atlanta; Confirm 11

Jul 29, 2019

The Sheraton Atlanta hotel remains closed two weeks after officials discovered an outbreak of Legionella. As of Monday, 11 people have lab-confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease, officials said.

Another 55 cases are considered probable, Georgia Department of Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said. While there have been six deaths so far in 2019 from Legionella infection, there are no reported deaths related to the Legionella outbreak at the Sheraton Atlanta hotel, Nydam said.

"Probable cases are people who had illness consistent with Legionnaires’ disease, including pneumonia diagnosed by a clinician or chest X-ray, but without laboratory confirmation," Nydam said. "The number of probable cases can change based on additional testing and lab results."

Hundreds of people who visited the Sheraton between June 12 and July 15 have filled out surveys that are being reviewed by state health officials. The survey responses are being analyzed to compare activities at the hotel between the people who did become sick and the people who did not.

RELATED: Atlanta Hotel Closes To Investigate Possible Legionnaires' Outbreak

The hotel voluntarily closed July 15. The first set of environmental samples were collected four days later and additional samples are being collected Monday, Nydam said.

"Testing environmental samples takes up to 14 days, and results are pending," she said. "The environmental sampling results combined with epidemiology findings will help to inform the next steps, such as remediation."

Legionnaires’ disease is a very serious type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath.

Treatment involves antibiotics, and most cases of this illness are treated successfully.

The number of people with Legionnaires' disease grew by nearly four times from 2000 to 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 6,100 cases of Legionnaires' disease were reported in the United States in 2016. In Georgia, 189 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported in 2018, and 172 cases in 2017.