Hotel with Legionnaires’ Cases Plans Tests Prior to Reopening

OCEAN CITY — The hotel where several people contracted Legionnaires’ Disease will have consulted with a water systems expert and will have regular water testing done by the health department when it reopens in the spring.

The Plim Plaza Hotel, which closed for the season a few days early this fall after some of its guests developed Legionnaires’ Disease, has been required by the Worcester County Health Department to consult with a water expert to develop a plan for treating its water before it reopens in April 2012.

“We’ll be monitoring the effectiveness of the plan,” said Debra Stevens, nursing program manager at the Worcester County Health Department. “This is an ongoing investigation.”

When it opens in the spring, the oceanfront hotel will also have its water tested regularly for about six months by the health department.

Plim Plaza spokesperson Betsy FauntLeRoy said the hotel had been working closely with the health department since the bacteria was discovered in its water pipes and had hired a water expert immediately.

“We had remediation done,” she said. “All the bacteria has been cleared from the building, everything is good to go.”

She said an exact source of the bacteria had not been determined. “The source is unclear, but we did everything in our power to clean out every pipe and drain,” she said.

The Plim Plaza Hotel closed after three former guests developed Legionnaires’ Disease after staying there in September. Once it closed, four more guests contracted the disease, which can show up anywhere between two and 14 days after exposure to the Legionella bacteria. One of the seven sickened, an elderly out-of-state hotel guest, died.

Legionnaires’ Disease, a form of pneumonia, has symptoms similar to the flu including a high fever, cough and shortness of breath. People develop the illness after exposure to the Legionella bacteria, which is common in the environment, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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