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Miami Hotel Cleared in Death of Guest from Legionnaires’ Disease

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, December 17, 2009 3:12 PM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Legionnaires' disease, CDC, Public Health, Legionella Bacteria, Epic Hotel, Pneumonia

Epic Hotel is cleared by Miami-Dade health officials of containing the type of Legionella bacteria that killed a guest, but it did sicken two others.



IMAGE SOURCE: Epic Hotel Web site

Hotel Still Closed

Earlier this week, national news reported that bacterial contamination at Miami’s Epic Hotel associated with Legionnaires' disease killed one tourist and sickened two others.

Now the hotel has been cleared in the death by the Miami-Dade County Health Department.

The South Florida Business Journal reports the hotel remains closed to guests, despite the report.

"We're very pleased that the health department's investigation has now conclusively shown that the death is completely unrelated to the Epic Hotel," hotel spokesman Bruce Rubin said in a statement.

"We will continue to work closely with the health department on any remaining issues, and look forward to being back in full operation as soon as possible."

Health officials called a news conference Wednesday to say the tourist who died contracted the disease somewhere else and not at the hotel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds the strain of Legionella bacteria that killed the man is from a different source.

So if the hotel was not the source of the Legionella bacteria - what was?  Dr. Vincent Conte, the Miami-Dade health department’s chief epidemiologist said, ‘We can’t divulge this source. If it represented any health threat, we would give you more information,” the Miami Herald reports.

Health officials would not even divulge if the source was in South Florida in a departure from full disclosure usually required by public health notices.

However, the two other cases of individuals who became ill in November and tested positive from Legionnaires’ disease are linked to the hotel, Conte said.

Epic had recently installed a water filtration system that took out the city chlorine which reportedly allowed the bacteria to grow. Executives with Kimpton Hotels have flown in experts to investigate the 411-room hotel at 200 Biscayne Blvd. Way.

When the three were sickened and diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, the only thing they had in common was they had all been recent guests at the Epic Hotel.

Legionnaires’ Disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta reports about 8,000 to 12,000 are hospitalized every year with Legionnaires’ disease, named after an outbreak at a Philadelphia American Legion convention in 1976.

Outbreaks have been reported on cruise ships, in hospitals, in malls and other hotels and just last week Legionella bacteria was found in a patient’s room at the new Shands Cancer Hospital in Gainesville, reports www.GatorSports.com.

The hospital elevated chlorine levels in response, to kill the bacteria.

The bacteria like to grow in warm water such as that found in hot tubs, cooling towers, large plumbing or air-conditioning systems, and hot water tanks. A person is contaminated when they breathe in mist or vapor that contains the bacteria.

Symptoms can include a high fever, chills, cough dehydration, muscle aches and headaches. The bacterium causes pneumonia, which chest X-rays can find, as can testing phlegm, blood or urine.

Symptoms usually begin 14 days after exposure and antibiotics are the preferred treatment. Still five to 30 percent of patients die. #

1 Comment

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, December 18, 2009 10:14 AM EST

One needs a scorecard to keep up with this story. Now the Miami Herald reports the hotel is not entirely in the clear.... see the story here:


Comments for this article are closed.

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