Sickened in Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak? Call (612) 337-6126

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for clients harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires in this Sheraton Atlanta outbreak, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

The Sheraton Atlanta Legionnaires’ disease outbreak continues to get worse: One person has died, the case count has increased to 12, and there are now 61 “possible” cases.

Cameo Garrett, 49, of suburban Decatur (7 miles east of downtown Atlanta), is the first fatality in the outbreak. Her cause of death was listed as “coronary artery atherosclerosis aggravated by Legionella pneumonia.”

Garret passed away on July 9, shortly after attending Syn-Lod 2019, the Top Ladies of Distinction Inc. Conference, which was at the Sheraton Atlanta from June 26 to July 2. She did not stay at the hotel – which has been closed since July 15 – but merely attended the conference.

Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak:
‘Probable’ case count tops 60

A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) said that in addition to the 12 lab-confirmed cases, there are six more  “probable” cases, increasing that total to 61. (Lab testing has not confirmed the “probable” cases, which include people who had illnesses consistent with Legionnaires’ disease, like influenza or pneumonia.)

The source of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, has not been connected definitively to the hotel, but no other locations are being investigated.

Pat Bailey, the medical examiner for DeKalb County, said it was possible Garrett would have died from the heart disease even without the infection, but he said the additional strain of Legionnaires’ disease was too much for her.

According to Georgia health officials, Garrett’s death increases the state total to seven people who have died from Legionnaires’ disease this year.

Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak toll rises: 1 death, 12 illnesses, 61 possible

The Sheraton Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak keeps worsening: The first death has occurred, the case count has increased to 12 – and there are 61 more possible cases.

Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak:
Victim had ‘intestinal problems’

Two people close to Cameo Garrett said she was not feeling well after the conference. Her father, Al Garrett, told WSB-TV, “She was having stomach problems; intestinal problems,” and Terri Lewis, a friend, told 11 Alive WXIA-TV that Cameo said she had a fever and her stomach was bothering her.

After not hearing from her for five days, Al Garrett – who lives in Augusta, Georgia – and Lewis went to perform a welfare check on July 9. That’s when they found her lifeless body.

Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak:
Multiple disease symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after one has been exposed to Legionella. It frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • severe headaches
  • muscle aches
  • chills
  • fever.

By Day 2 or Day 3, symptoms often worsen to include:

  • gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • coughing, which can produce mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath, called dyspnea
  • chest pains, called pleurisy or pleuritis
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak:
10 percent mortality rate

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), deaths caused by Legionella occur through progressive pneumonia with respiratory failure or shock and multiple-organ failure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is based in Atlanta, estimates that one out of every 10 people (10 percent) who contract Legionnaires’ disease will die because of complications from the illness.

Although the disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart.

Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak:
High-risk demographics

Anyone can become sick after inhaling Legionella, but people at the most significant risk of developing full-blown Legionnaires’ disease include:

  • anyone 50 years old or older
  • smokers, whether they currently smoke or used to
  • anyone with a chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD, most commonly bronchitis or emphysema)
  • alcoholics.

The list also includes anyone with an immune system that has been compromised or weakened because of:

  • organ infection – which was the case with Cameo Garrett – or inflammation
  • frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections
  • blood disorders, such as anemia and low platelet counts
  • delayed growth and development.

Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak:
Complications are numerous

After Legionnaires’ disease has been confirmed, hospitalization is almost always necessary. Regardless, complications still can develop, including:

  • endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart that can affect its ability to maintain adequate blood flow throughout the body.
  • kidney failure, which occurs when Legionella toxins damage the kidneys’ ability to eliminate waste from the blood.
  • pericarditis, which is a swelling of the pericardium, the primary membrane around the heart. Pericarditis also can affect the ability of the heart to circulate blood.
  • respiratory failure, which is caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
  • septic shock, which can occur when Legionella toxins enter the bloodstream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to the loss of adequate blood supply to the organs.

Atlanta Legionnaires outbreak:
Hotel oversight lacking

Hospitals and nursing homes are required to provide robust oversight of water systems and medical equipment that could expose patients to harmful Legionella. There is, however, little regulatory oversight of hotels, apartments, and other non-medical buildings.

“There’s not a lot of people checking up on a hotel, a condominium or a large building,” said Elliot Olsen, who has filed Legionnaires lawsuits on behalf of patients and their families for more than two decades. “I am not aware of any oversight really at any level.”

Free consultation

Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: