Legionnaires’ Disease Deaths At 3 In Outbreak Traced To JW Marriott Chicago Hotel

The JW Marriott hotel in Chicago. Three deaths have now been traced back to a Legionnaires’ outbreak at the hotel.

A third death has been reported in the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a high-end hotel in downtown Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune reports that, according to an Irish newspaper, Thomas Keane, 66, was visiting Chicago from his native Ireland when he dined at the JW Marriott, 151 W. Adams St., with his wife in July.

Keane, a retired plumber, and his wife were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary on the trip.

Health officials on Friday also announced two new confirmed cases of the illness, which victims thus far identified in the outbreak contracted while staying at the hotel between July 16 and Aug. 15, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Health officials also identified the source of the bacterial disease’s outbreak: the decorative fountain located in the hotel’s lobby, according to ABC Chicago.

The fountain has since been removed from the hotel’s lobby and other areas found to have contained the same bacteria — including the hotel’s pool, spa whirlpool and men’s and women’s locker rooms — have been “disabled or made inaccessible to the public,” the Tribune reports.

Last month, the city announced three cases of the fast-spreading, sometimes fatal Legionnaire’s disease. The bacteria spread through the inhalation of contaminated water vapor, causing a severe form of pneumonia.

In response to the news, the hotel issued a warning to all recent guests, and began the complicated process of notifying the 8,500 guests who stayed there in recent months.

The outbreak was previously responsible for two deaths of guests of the hotel.

Health officials noted that there “is no ongoing public health risk” at the hotel, according to CBS Chicago.

Symptoms of the disease include headache, chills, chest pain and fever. A hotline has been set up by Chicago Department of Public Health to answer questions from people who may have been exposed at (312) 746-4835.

Original article at: The Huffington Post

Legionnaires’ Disease Linked to Aria

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informed the Southern Nevada Health District last year that two cases of Legionnaires’ disease had been possibly linked to the Aria. But it wasn’t until last month that local officials tested the water at the posh Strip resort and discovered the type of bacteria that causes the disease.

The tests were done only after health officials determined that six former patrons of the hotel had been diagnosed with the disease, a form of pneumonia.

And that, says a CDC official, is the proper protocol.

“We recommend what they did there at first, an environmental assessment,” said Laurel Garrison, a CDC specialist in the disease.

Health officials explained their procedures in the wake of the news Thursday that Aria officials are notifying patrons who stayed at the hotel from June 21 to July 4 that they might have been exposed to the sometimes-fatal Legionnaires’ bacteria.

It’s the latest bad news for the CityCenter development, whose mothballed Harmon tower came under scrutiny earlier this week after a structural engineer said it had construction defects that could cause it to collapse in an earthquake.

Six former patrons of the Aria, people who stayed there between December 2009 and April, have come down with the disease. All have recovered. It wasn’t until all six cases were linked that officials felt the need to test the hotel’s water.

Though the Aria cases stretch back almost to the Dec. 16, 2009, grand opening of the 4,000-room hotel, officials say they need to notify only those guests who stayed during the recent two-week period because of the disease’s incubation period of two to 14 days. So far, none of the notified patrons, nor any hotel employees, has reported contracting the disease, according to the health district’s Jennifer Sizemore.

The notification letter informs people of symptoms and advises them to seek medical attention if they feel ill. The letter also urges anyone who has further questions to contact company representatives at 1-877-326-2742. Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs for MGM Resorts International, declined to say how many letters had been sent out to customers of the hotel.


When health district environmental health employees inspected the Aria in June 2010, they found nothing to make them think that a possible outbreak was under way.

“We then did a stem-to-stern assessment of the Aria,” said Mark Bergtholdt, a district environmental health supervisor. “What we found was a hot water system that was in great shape.”

Legionella, the bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease, is often found in air-conditioning cooling towers, whirlpool spas, showers, faucets or other water sources. The bacterium can rapidly reproduce in warm, stagnant waters.

The two cases that had been reported to the CDC by state health officials — and then reported to the Southern Nevada Health District — were several months apart, in 2009 and 2010, according to Bergtholdt.

Even as the Aria was being inspected in 2010, another report of a possible case linked to the hotel came to the health district from the CDC.

Yet given what Bergtholdt and other environmental specialists found during the inspection at the Aria — what appeared to be complete compliance with guidelines — the determination was made not to test the water.

“If we had found anything to suggest that they had a breeding ground for Legionella, we would have tested water for it,” Bergtholdt said.

“What we’re doing is risk assessment,” he said.

And officials, he admitted, are conscious of the cost of testing.

“It costs $200 a test,” he said. “Just one room of faucets and showers and so forth can cost $1,000. Test ten rooms and you’re talking about $10,000.”

During this year, Bergtholdt said, three more cases possibly stemming from the Aria were reported to the health district from the CDC. The two most recent cases, from this spring, were reported in June.

“That showed a definite association (with the Aria), and testing began,” he said. Elevated levels of the bacteria causing the disease were found during tests between June 21 and July 4.

Multiple rooms were found to have the bacterium in either faucets or showers. Bergtholdt won’t specify which rooms were found to have it or exactly how many rooms had it. MGM’s Feldman said three rooms were involved but did not say which ones.

Bergtholdt said to ensure that none of the bacteria continue to exist at the Aria, extra chlorine has recently been fed into the hot water system of rooms that are fed by a single water outlet.

“You let it sit and then you flush the system,” Bergtholdt said.

Blocks of 500 to 1,000 rooms of the 4,000 room hotel are closed off during the cleansing effort, which he said “takes overnight to complete.”

Public health officials don’t have to test other hotels in the CityCenter complex because water lines that go to Aria aren’t shared with other hotels, he said

At this point the health district, or taxpayers, are picking up the tab for the work at the Aria, said Bergtholdt, who added that the district might ask the Aria to pick up the tab. He said the district has conducted water tests on fewer than 15 rooms, and the Aria is doing tests of its own on water outlets in other rooms.


CDC’s specialists Garrison and Laurie Hicks called Legionella a “ubiquitous organism” that can be found in many locations, including in natural as well as artificial water systems. Although tests can show evidence of bacteria, they said, the disease is only caught through inhaling contaminated water vapor.

It is possible, Garrison said, that others came down with symptoms of the disease and were treated with anti­biotics, but the cases were never diagnosed as Legionnaire’s disease.

Doctors must do a specific test to confirm the diagnosis, she said.

The disease can be very serious; the CDC reports that it can cause death in 5 percent to 30 percent of cases. Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics, and healthy people usually recover from infection.

“In an abundance of caution, we are attempting to notify guests who may have been exposed to these bacteria during this short period,” Paul Berry, vice president of hotel operations at Aria, wrote in a letter mailed to guests and posted online at www.arialasvegas.com/facts.

Feldman said the hotel has implemented a comprehensive abatement effort.

All subsequent tests have come back with no detectable levels of active Legionella, Feldman said.

Berry said Legionella is a concern for all large buildings, and Aria has a comprehensive water management program in place, which includes regular testing.

“We will continue to monitor our water quality on an ongoing basis to ensure the safety of the water system and our guests,” he said.


Legionnaires’ disease was first identified in 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia sickened hundreds of people who had attended an American Legion convention at Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, resulting in dozens of deaths. Initially a mystery, the cause of the disease was not identified for several months.

Over the years, there have been a number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Las Vegas Valley, including at least one confirmed death in 1981. After an outbreak at the Polo Towers in 2001, in which three guests of the time-share condominiums on the Strip had contracted the disease, health district officials issued new regulations designed to protect the public.

The regulations required property owners to maintain proper chlorine levels in pools and spas and ensure temperatures in water heaters are escalated periodically to 150 degrees to kill the bacteria.

The regulations targeted hotels, motels and resorts as well as other commercial buildings with large air-conditioning system or cooling towers.

The CDC’s Garrison noted that new national guidelines to keep Legionella at bay are being formulated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

“The document is not yet final and when it is, it will be up to governing bodies in communities to adopt it,” said Garrison, who said the CDC has played a role in drafting it.

How the valley has fared

Several outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease have occurred over the past two decades in the Las Vegas Valley but only one death of a local resident partially attributable to the disease has been reported by health officials since the bacterial infection first surfaced in 1976 in Philadelphia.

A 70-year-old Las Vegas man died of Legionnaire’s disease at Valley Hospital in April 1981, Clark County health officials reported that year. The man had been battling chronic pulmonary disease before he was exposed to Legionnaires’ disease and entered the hospital.

A chronology of past Legionnaires’ disease cases tracked by Clark County epidemiologists in the 1990s include:

• 36 cases in 1992
• five cases in 1997
• six cases in 1998
• six cases in 1999

A number of guests at Polo Towers contracted Legionnaires’ disease after 2000. The first outbreak triggered the health district to adopt regulations to keep tourists safe from the Legionnaires’ bacterium. The list of cases linked to the Polo Towers includes:

• three cases in 2001
• two cases in 2007
• four cases in 2008

The cases in 2008 were reported after the Polo Towers’ water system tested positive for Legionnaires’ bacterium. All four guest who were diagnosed with the disease recovered after treatment for it.

Nearly 300 guests were relocated by management to other Las Vegas hotels or safe locations on the Polo Towers property during the 2008 outbreak.

Original article published on Las Vegas Review-Journal

Dubai Hotel Faces $16.7 Million Legionnaires’ Disease Lawsuit

Travel Daily News reports that the suit claims that Thomas Boyle, from Britain, and Elodie Nogues, from France, contracted Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Dubai Westin Mina Seyahi in January and February of 2009. The health of the pair deteriorated rapidly and resulted in hospital stays. A third guest, BBC radio commentator Bill Frindall, 69, passed away as a result of contracting the disease.

The legionella bacterion that causes Legionnaires’ (a form of pneumonia) can be found in natural water sources such as lakes and rivers, but also on occasion in man-made water systems such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, and also in air-conditioning units. People become infected by inhaling water droplets containing the bacterium. Since the disease was first identified in 1976 – at a meeting of retired US military personnel, or legionnaires – outbreaks have been linked to hotels, cruise ships, and other types of holiday accommodation. About 5-15% of cases prove fatal, with elderly people most at risk.

Boyle arrived at the Westin with his family on December, 2008, and left several days later, on January 6, 2009. On his return to the UK, the suit says he developed flu-like symptoms and his health deteriorated rapidly. He then spent a fortnight in a UK hospital having been diagnosed with the disease.

Nogues started to feel weak and feverish two days after checking into the hotel with her son and a friend on February 14. With her health deteriorating, she returned to France on February 21 where she was also diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

Frindall, a highly-regarded cricket scorer and broadcaster, returned to the UK on 20 January from a tour to Dubai with his charity cricket team, the Lord’s Taverners. His condition quickly deteriorated and he was not able to recover after one of his lungs collapsed. He passed away in Swindon Hospital on January 30. The team said no other members were showing symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease.

Following these incidents, Amalie Craig, a spokeswoman for Starwood said in a written statement that the company was “continuing to conduct a thorough investigation with independent assessors, including leading European and US based experts, to investigate whether legionella is present in the hotel.” The investigation was being conducted in co-operation with Dubai Municipality and Dubai Health Authorities.

A later statement by Starwood said that “no evidence of legionella has been found to date at the hotel based on initial testing by an independent accredited laboratory and the hotel’s systematic and regular audits,” and continued “although recent monitoring and testing has not revealed the presence of legionella at the property, hotel management is continuing to monitor the situation and has begun contacting guests and associates to advise them of the circumstances. The ongoing monitoring is intended to ensure that the hotel satisfies all requirements regarding the health, safety and welfare of hotel guests and associates.”

According to the lawsuit, both plaintiffs were unable to return to their normal lives having suffered from depression and anxiety. The New York Supreme Court is deciding whether the case can go to trial, a decision that could take up to a year to make.

Legionnaires’ Disease Warning Update for Bali Travelers

The Government of Western Australia Department of Health has provided an updated disease warning for Bali travelers.

The Department of Health has been notified of two additional Western Australians who have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease following travel to Bali.

There have now been 13 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Australians associated with the central area in Kuta since August 2010; 9 from Western Australia.

Communicable Disease Control Director, Dr Paul Armstrong, said while the exact source of the disease remained unknown, all but one of the cases had stayed at the Ramayana Resort and Spa Hotel in the central Kuta area.

“The Indonesian Government has been advised of the Australian cases by the Australian Government, and is working with the World Health Organisation to investigate the possible source of the disease,” Dr Armstrong said.

“The investigating team has taken steps to disinfect potential sources at the hotel, but it is not yet clear that this has been successful,” he said.

Dr Armstrong said the early symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are typically similar to severe ‘flu-like’ illness.
“Early symptoms may include fever, chills, muscle soreness, headaches, tiredness, reduced appetite and diarrhoea, along with dry cough and breathlessness,” Dr Armstrong said.

The Department of Health is advising Western Australians who have recently returned from Bali, and have developed flu-like symptoms within 10 days of their return, to contact their GP.

“Legionnaires’ disease is treated with specific antibiotics, and while most people recover, some people may develop severe pneumonia requiring hospitalisation.”

Legionnaires’ disease most often affects middle-aged and elderly people, particularly those who smoke or who have lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease or a weakened immune system.

Legionella pneumophilia is a type of bacteria commonly transmitted by the inhalation of water droplets from contaminated warm water environments such as:

  • air conditioning cooling towers in large buildings and evaporative air conditioners
  • showers and warm water systems
  • spa pools
  • misting or droplet sprays
  • fountains

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be caught from other people or from animal contact.

For more information on Legionnaires’ disease visit: Legionnaires’ disease in Bali – Frequently Asked Questions.