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UPDATE, OCT. 6
A fifth case of Legionnaires’ disease was confirmed at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel in suburban Austin, TX. News-gathering organizations learned Friday that a fourth guest had taken ill.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 6
The SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel in Round Rock, TX, has been closed temporarily by the local health department after three guests and an employee contracted Legionnaires’ disease, multiple news outlets are reporting. The hotel voluntarily closed at 5 p.m. on Oct. 4.
The three sickened guests stayed at the hotel between June and September. All three have recovered.
All three guests had spent time in the hotel’s hot tub/pool area. It is believed they breathed in contaminated water in the form of mist created by the hot tub.
The employee, who was diagnosed and hospitalized with the disease Oct. 3, had worked at the facility for only one week but frequently walked through the hot tub/pool area.
Investigators from the Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) have taken samples from the hotel’s water systems. Test results are expected back within two weeks.
“If anybody has stayed at (that location) from mid-September until yesterday (Oct. 4), they need to be on the lookout for pneumonia or flu-like symptoms,” a WCCHD spokesperson said. “If they have those symptoms, they need to seek medical help immediately.”
Hotel officials estimate that the remediation process and testing will take about three weeks. They said they hope to reopen by the end of October.
“The hotel anticipates it will remain closed until the remediation can be fully completed and the property clears all inspections,” according to a statement released by SpringHill Suites.
The four-story extended-stay hotel, located at 2960 Hoppe Trail in a suburb of Austin, is 17 years old and has 104 rooms. The hotel relocated all current guests to nearby hotels and is contacting individuals with existing reservations to assist them in changing their accommodations.
Legionnaires’ strikes 25,000 Americans yearly
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection that is contracted by an estimated 25,000 Americans yearly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is most commonly contracted by inhaling Legionella bacteria in microscopic water droplets (mist or vapor). Legionella bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as hot tubs, spas, cooling towers and air-conditioning systems, to name just a few.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease
Legionnaires’ disease is very similar to other types of pneumonia or even flu. Early symptoms usually include:
- appetite loss
- muscle aches.
After the first few days, symptoms can worsen to include:
- a cough, which may bring up mucus and/or blood
- chest pain when breathing
- confusion and agitation
- diarrhea (about one-third of all cases result in gastrointestinal problems)
- nausea and vomiting
- shortness of breath.
The incubation period – that is, the amount of time between inhaling the bacteria and the development of symptoms – is usually 2 to 10 days after exposure but can be as much as two weeks.
Legionnaires’ complications can be deadly
Anyone can get the disease, but those at the greatest risk of infection include:
- people 50 or older
- smokers (current or former)
- heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
- people with chronic lung disease
- people with weakened immune systems.
After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is generally necessary. Complications can develop, and can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.