blog home Premises Liability The Recent Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak at a Hotel

The Recent Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak at a Hotel

By Jason Bottlinger on June 18, 2024

Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, poses significant risks to hotel guests if proper safety measures are not diligently observed. According to a report issued by public health officials in Colorado, the Marriott Denver Aurora Hotel was the site of at least two outbreaks of Legionnaire’s Disease between April 21, 2023 and January 2024, with one confirmed fatality as a result.

The report identifies at least six victims of the disease, and three people are known to have been hospitalized due to serious medical complications. Details are still emerging, but early indications are that the pool chemistry records at the hotel were “poorly maintained and appeared to be falsified.”

What Is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, typically found in freshwater environments. When these bacteria grow and spread in man-made water systems, such as those in hotels, they can become a serious health hazard. People contract the disease by inhaling aerosolized water droplets that contain the bacteria.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include high fever, chills, severe cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, and headaches. These symptoms may develop two to 10 days after exposure, particularly in older adults, smokers, and those with weakened immune systems. Legionnaires’ disease can lead to:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Septic shock
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Death

Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics are crucial for recovery.

How Legionnaires’ Disease Is Caught in a Hotel

Legionnaires’ disease is transmitted through the inhalation of aerosolized water droplets contaminated with Legionella bacteria. The bacteria thrive in warm, stagnant water, making improperly maintained water systems a prime breeding ground. It’s important to note that Legionnaires’ disease is not spread through person-to-person contact. Instead, exposure occurs when guests inhale contaminated aerosols, often created by the mist from hot tubs or the spray from showers.

Hotels present several potential sources for Legionella bacteria. Air conditioning systems, hot tubs and spas, decorative fountains, showerheads, and faucets can all harbor hazardous bacteria. Air conditioning systems in hotels, especially those with cooling towers, can also be significant sources of Legionella bacteria. These systems can disseminate contaminated water droplets through the hotel’s ventilation, reaching various areas and putting guests at risk.

Hot tubs and spas can also be breeding grounds for Legionella bacteria. The warm water in these facilities creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth, especially if the water is not consistently filtered, disinfected, and changed. Aerosols generated by the bubbling and heating mechanisms can easily disperse the contaminated water droplets into the air, where they can be inhaled by guests.

Compliance with health regulations is essential for hotels to prevent Legionnaires’ disease and ensure guest safety. These regulations, often set by local and national health authorities, outline the necessary steps for maintaining and monitoring water systems. Regular cleaning, disinfection, and maintenance of HVAC systems are crucial to prevent bacterial buildup and ensure safe air quality. Proper maintenance of hot tubs and spas involves routine monitoring of water quality, including pH and chlorine levels, and the implementation of a regular cleaning schedule.

Proving Negligence in Legionnaires’ Cases

Failure to properly maintain water systems in hotels can be a critical factor in proving negligence in Legionnaires’ disease cases. Negligence may be established if it is shown that the hotel did not adhere to established maintenance protocols, such as regular inspection and cleaning of water systems.

An inadequate response to complaints about water quality or health concerns can be a strong indicator of negligence in Legionnaires’ disease cases. When guests report issues such as unusual smells, discoloration in the water, or health symptoms consistent with Legionnaires’ disease, hotels have a responsibility to act promptly. Documentation of guest complaints, coupled with evidence showing the hotel’s failure to investigate or take corrective action, can be pivotal in proving negligence.

Establishing causation and liability in Legionnaires’ disease cases also involves demonstrating a direct link between the hotel’s negligence and the guest’s illness. This process typically requires a combination of medical evidence and expert testimony. Medical records documenting the diagnosis of Legionnaires’ disease and the timeline of symptoms can further help establish that the illness was contracted during the guest’s stay at the hotel.

Our Omaha Legionnaires’ Disease Attorney Can Help with Compensation

Be sure to see your doctor right away if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. If local health authorities determine that you were the victim of Legionnaires’ disease or any other type of negligence that caused you to get sick, contact Bottlinger Law L.L.C. as soon as possible. We can pursue every opportunity to get you compensation to cover your medical costs and other expenses, such as assisted living care, rehabilitation, and lost wages.

Lead attorney Jason Bottlinger belongs to the exclusive Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and can keep you informed about how your case progressing from start to finish. Further, Bottlinger Law L.L.C. treat all our clients with respect and compassion, that’s why we have a perfect A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Call (402) 505-8234 to schedule a FREE consultation with our Legionnaires’ disease lawyer in Omaha.

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