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Miami Hotel Evacuated After Tourist Killed By Legionnaires' Disease

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, December 14, 2009 10:43 AM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Legionnaires' disease, CDC, Public Health, Legionella Bacteria

Epic Hotel uses a filter to take out chlorine and ends up with Legionnaires' disease.

400 Guests Notified

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IMAGE SOURCE: Epic Hotel Web site

 

About 300 hotel guests have been relocated from a downtown Miami luxury hotel after a foreign visitor died and two others were sickened from bacteria in the water.

The Epic Hotel in downtown Miami was evacuated Sunday to prevent further contact with the unusual type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease. The Legionella bacterial contamination is spread in contaminated mist or vapor and not person-to-person.

The Epic Hotel had recently installed a water filter that was powerful enough to remove the chlorine from its city water supply, something that has the potential to encourage bacterial growth. Legionnaire’s disease is typically spread by a ventilation system or water supply.

"What's ironic is the hotel installed a special filtration system to enhance the quality of their drinking water,'' said Dr. Vincent Conte, the county's top epidemiologist to the Miami Herald.

Legionnaire’s disease typically kills five to 30 percent of those it infects, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The visitor was a European man who stayed at the hotel in September before setting off on a cruise. While on the cruise he became sick and was sent back to a Miami hospital where he died.

A second European man contracted the disease while staying at the hotel in late November, reports the Herald. Because he is not local, there was a delay in alerting local officials about the reportable disease. The third victim is a European woman who was sickened by the disease after visiting the hotel.

The only thing the three individuals had in common was the hotel, said Miami-Dade Health Department officials.

The Epic Hotel plans on readjusting its water system so that it passes through a special filter. Then it will temporarily triple the chlorine normally used to kill off bacterial growth.

Meanwhile about 400 guests who stayed at the hotel recently have been notified.

Hotel spokesman, Bruce Rubin says in a statement:

"The EPIC Hotel has voluntarily partnered with the Miami-Dade Health Department to notify guests and staff of the possible presence of bacteria in its water system, and to engage in water remediation efforts.

"Though not currently accepting guests, the hotel remains in operation and is focused on minimizing guest inconvenience. Simultaneously, the hotel is working toward a quick and thorough resolution of the matter.”

The hotel is located on 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way and is a Kimpton Hotel.

Legionnaires’ Disease

Legionnaires’ disease was first identified in 1976 as the result of an outbreak of pneumonia at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia.

The disease is a severe form of pneumonia which hospitalizes between 8,000 to 18,000 patients a year, though more may have the contamination and fail to be diagnosed or their cases are not reported.

Symptoms can include muscle aches and headaches, a high fever, chills, a cough. Chest X-rays may be needed to find the pneumonia, reports the CDC.

Antibiotics are usually the treatment. While the bacteria seems to grow in hot tubs, cooling towers and hot water tanks or large plumbing systems such as air-conditioning systems, it does not seem to grow in the car or window air-conditioners. #


3 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by NRomero
Friday, December 18, 2009 12:00 PM EST

I have a similar case in which my client’s husband died from exposure to legionella bacteria while on business in the New Orleans, Louisiana area. I am surprised at how quickly the source was found in Miami. We have been attempting to connect the dots to find the source of the bacteria but have had little to no help from governmental agencies.
I have been searching for anyone who has contracted Legionnaire’s Disease in the year 2006 after visiting the New Orleans area in order to find the source of the bacteria. If you had contracted Legionnaires or similar symptoms after visiting the New Orleans area in 2006 please contact attorneys Stan Gauthier or Nichole Romero at 337-234-0099 or email nicholer@sgauthierlaw.com.

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, December 18, 2009 2:16 PM EST

N Romero--

Have you checked with the county health department? Since Legionnaires' disease is a mandatory reportable disease, they may have some leads.

I ought to know. In 1998, two weeks after visiting a sick kid in a children's hospital in St. Petersburg, I contracted Legionairres' disease and had to be hospitalized. After I got home the county health department called me. The only question they had was had I been in a hospital two weeks before I was diagnosed....

Anonymous User
Posted by N Romero
Friday, December 18, 2009 2:36 PM EST

Jane,

Yes we have contacted the Department of Health and they will not release any records. I have to get them through the CDC after released through the Freedom of Information Act. Nearly a year and a half later we're still waiting on most of the documents. The only documents that have been release so far are incomplete. I appreciate any help or advice that you can give.

Comments for this article are closed.

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