Update: 11 Confirmed Legionnaires’ Disease Sheraton Atlanta Hotel Cases; 55 More Cases Probable

At least eleven cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been confirmed of the guests who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel property on Courtland Street Northeast between Wednesday, June 12, 2019 and Monday, July 15, 2019; and another 55 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are probable in what is being called an “outbreak” by both the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Fulton County Board of Health.

Update: 11 Confirmed Legionnaires’ Disease Sheraton Atlanta Hotel Cases; 55 More Cases Probable

The number of confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease increased from three, as was first reported in this article here at The Gate on Tuesday, July 16, 2019.

No deaths have been reported as a result of the legionella bacteria outbreak.

Some guests who had stayed at the hotel property complained about lung problems after a recent convention, which has caused the hotel property to close for business until at least the middle of August. Guests were relocated to other hotel properties once the hotel property was voluntarily closed on Monday, July 15, 2019.

Upon checking for reservations at this hotel property, no rooms are available until at least Monday, September 2, 2019…

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: Marriott.

…but part of the reason for the unavailability of rooms may also be because the hotel property is reportedly sold out for Dragon Con, which is scheduled to be in Atlanta this year from Thursday, August 29, 2019 through Monday, September 2, 2019; and no official confirmation has been reported at this time as to when the hotel property will open again for guests.

Both the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Fulton County Board of Health have been continuously testing the hotel property for environmental samples, which can take up to 14 days; and the results are pending. Combined with epidemiology findings, the environmental sampling results will help to inform as to what are the next steps — such as remediation.

“Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia — lung inflammation usually caused by infection. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a bacterium known as legionella”, according to this article from the Mayo Clinic. “You can’t catch legionnaires’ disease from person-to-person contact. Instead, most people get legionnaires’ disease from inhaling the bacteria.”

Inhaling the bacteria usually occurs when people breathe in small droplets of water in the air which contain legionella bacteria.

Katse Lodge Bokong Lesotho

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

“Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath”, according to this article from the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Legionnaires’ disease requires treatment with antibiotics, and most cases of this illness are treated successfully. Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 years or older, current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease or weak immune systems may be at increased risk of getting sick if they are exposed to the bacteria.”

Prevention of Legionnaires’ disease requires meticulous cleaning and disinfection of water systems, pools and spas, as legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment — usually in fresh water. The ideal environment for the bacteria to grow is in warm water; and it and can be found in shower heads and faucets, hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, decorative fountains or plumbing systems in large buildings.

Also, avoiding smoking is the single most important thing you can do to lower your risk of infection, as smoking increases the chances that you will develop Legionnaires’ disease if you’re exposed to legionella bacteria.


Margitsziget Island Budapest fountain

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

If you stayed as a guest at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel property between Wednesday, June 12, 2019 and Monday, July 15, 2019, the Georgia Department of Public Health is requesting that you please complete this survey. Your answers will aid the public health investigation.

Meanwhile, management and employees of hotel and resort properties must continuously take the utmost care in keeping legionella out of water systems in buildings, as that is key to preventing infection.

“About one in 10 people who gets sick from Legionnaires’ disease will die”, according to this article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. “Health departments reported about 6,100 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States in 2016. However, because Legionnaires’ disease is likely underdiagnosed, this number may underestimate the true incidence.

In the meantime, seek alternative lodging arrangements if you plan on staying in Atlanta in the near future, as the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel property is closed until at least Monday, September 2, 2019.

Graphic ©2016 and all photographs ©2014 and ©2015 by Brian Cohen.


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5 thoughts on “Update: 11 Confirmed Legionnaires’ Disease Sheraton Atlanta Hotel Cases; 55 More Cases Probable”

  1. Brian says:

    What is your source that shows the hotel is closed through September 2nd? There is an enormous convention the previous weekend and just looking at the Marriott availability calendar wouldn’t be an indicator since the hotel has been sold out for many months.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      My source is the screen shot — which is included in the article — from attempting to reserve a room at the hotel property from the official Internet web site of Marriott, Brian

      …and I am not sure that the convention will occur at that hotel property until both the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Fulton County Board of Health give confirmation that it is safe to do so.

      1. Brian says:

        What I was saying is that just because the hotel isn’t taking new bookings that doesn’t necessarily mean the hotel will be closed through that date, especially considering they are fully booked for the previous weekend.

        This would be a big scoop if you had confirmation from an official source that the hotel would be closed that long, since the AJC’s most recent article only says it would be closed until “at least Aug 11”. To avoid confusion from the 70,000+ Dragon Con attendees that will be searching for information, I would suggest rewording the paragraph above the marriott.com screenshot to be more clear about what you found there.

  2. April says:

    I agree with the other Brian. Dragon Con already has enough hotel issues without adding an unconfirmed report of a host hotel closure to an article. Please edit your article to reflect the hotel hasn’t confirmed closure through Labor Day.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I now understand what both you and Brian are saying, April.

      I edited the article. Thank you both for pointing out that information to me; and I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion.

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