Ocean City Hotel Works to Reopen after Legionnaires’ Disease Cases

OCEAN CITY — The hotel where health officials say several people contracted Legionnaires’ disease will consult with a water systems expert and have regular water testing done by the Worcester 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 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 have its water tested regularly for about six months.

Plim Plaza spokeswoman Betsy FauntLeRoy said the hotel has worked closely with the health department since the bacteria was discovered in its water pipes and hired a water expert.

“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 guests developed Legionnaires’ disease in September. Once it closed, four more guests contracted the disease, which can show up 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. It is spread by the release of small droplets of contaminated water into the air from sources including air conditioning cooling towers, showers and humidifiers. People get sick when they inhale infected droplets; the disease is not spread by person-to-person contact.

Original article at: delmarvanow.com