Update: Sheraton Atlanta Now Reopened After Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak

After an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease claimed the life of a woman from at least 12 confirmed cases 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, the hotel property reopened on Thursday, August 15, 2019 with the support of both the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Fulton County Board of Health.

Update: Sheraton Atlanta Now Reopened After Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak

The sources of the outbreak were reportedly the cooling tower and a decorative fountain in the atrium of the hotel property, as they both reportedly tested positive for the presence of Legionella bacteria.

Meanwhile, the number of probable cases of Legionnaires’ disease have increased yet again to 66 since the hotel property closed on Sunday, July 14, 2019.

The following statement was released from the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel property:

Sheraton Atlanta Hotel reopened today, with the support and concurrence of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and Fulton County Board of Health (FCBOH). An extensive investigation has identified no evidence of a risk of Legionella exposure at the hotel at this time. Periodic sampling and testing in accordance with DPH recommendations will continue.

Out of an abundance of caution, the hotel closed voluntarily on July 15 in response to information provided by DPH and FCBOH. For the past month, the hotel has worked closely with public health officials during an investigation of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease.

During this time the hotel carried out: an environmental assessment of hotel water systems in conjunction with FCBOH and DPH; technical assessment and extensive environmental sampling and analysis completed by independent consultants and laboratories with expertise in remediation for and control of Legionella; and comprehensive remediation.

Sheraton Atlanta Hotel looks forward to welcoming its valued guests and associates, and reopened with full services.

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. The number then had increased to eleven confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, with another 55 probably cases of Legionnaires’ disease, as was reported in this article here at The Gate on Tuesday, July 30, 2019.

The outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Atlanta is now the largest ever in the state of Georgia.

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.

“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.

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.

Meanwhile, the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel is one of five hotel properties which have 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 draw as many as 80,000 attendees — possibly drawing a sigh of relief by attendees who have reservations to stay at the hotel now that it has reopened.

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


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One thought on “Update: Sheraton Atlanta Now Reopened After Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak”

  1. Christian says:

    I’m glad to hear they got it figured out. While the hotel is cheesy in some ways, I like it. In particular, the club lounge has really good food in the evening.

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