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3 Dead from Legionnaires’ at Chicago Hotel

Posted on September 06, 2012
by Wendy Stackhouse


We didn’t know it would turn into “Legionnaires’ Week” on the AirTek blog, but right after we published Tuesday’s blog, another report of a Legionnaires’ outbreak came out, this time in the US.

There have been 10 reported cases so far and 3 deaths from this most recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease which investigators have determined to come from contaminated water at the JW Chicago Marriott Hotel.

Legionella bacteria matching that found in the sick guests was discovered in the lobby fountain, the swimming pool and the whirlpool at the facility. The pool was utilizing a new UV filtration system which was installed in May. No chlorine was used in the pool, which was said to be disinfected by UV light. Supposedly this meant that the chlorine level in the pool was lower than that in drinking water. It was billed as feeling like “swimming in a freshwater lake.”

Now I suppose that people sometimes get sick from swimming in lakes, but we would like to think that hotel swimming pools are kept scrupulously clean, since they have so many people in them every day, many more than a pool at a home would have. We join in hoping that this UV filtration system is either vastly improved and tested or goes the way of the Dodo.

It sounds to us like using fresh water in the contaminated pool may have meant that the water in that pool was circulating in other areas of the hotel as well. This was clearly a very dangerous situation. Even if hotel guests did not use the spa or the pool, they were exposed to water vapor from the fountain in the lobby, where splashing droplets enter the air and from there people’s respiratory tract.

Legionnaires’ is a problem in the travel industry, appearing often on cruise ships, in convention facilities and in hotels. The Legionnella bacterium is everywhere and the only way to prevent it from spreading and causing disease is to keep all parts of a water system clean and uncontaminated. At AirTek, we provide these services to commercial buildings and ships to ensure that no guests fall sick from attending amazing events or trying to enjoy fabulous vacations.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other enviromental challenges. Please Like AirTek on Facebook and Follow @AirTekCA on Twitter!

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