The Sheraton Atlanta intends to stay closed at least until mid-August, hotel officials said Friday, as they continue to test the source of a legionnaires' disease outbreak.
In an emailed statement, hotel General Manager Ken Peduzzi said the water was in the pool, hot tub, water fountain, chillers and other areas.
"At this time, it remains unknown "Peduzzi said in the statement."
Earlier this week, the six guests at the hotel had been sickened with Legionnaires' disease. No new cases have been reported since. There are no reported deaths related to this outbreak, according to the Georgia Public Health Department.
Legionella bacteria is present. The bacteria is found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the agency says it can become a health concern when it grows and multiplies in human-made building water systems.
The consultants are hired to work with epidemiologists and environmental health staff from the state health department of Fulton County Board of Health.
The hotel will be closed until at least Aug. 1
One major event is Dragon Con, which starts in late August.
Dragon Con spokesman Greg Euston said while organizers hope the Sheraton Atlanta wants to reopen in time for the event, they are working on a contingency plan.
Peduzzi said his staff is reaching out to guests. Those affected can call Marriott, the parent company of Sheraton, at 1-888-236-2427 and a reservationist can help re-book.
The Sheraton is now working to help people find jobs in the hotel, Peduzzi said.
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Most people who become ill from the disease have breathed in mist or steam infected with Legionella and the bacterium. Legionnaires 'is not spread from person-to-person contact.
The number of Legionnaires' cases are on the rise. Nearly 7,500 people in the United States contracted the disease in 2017, increasing by more than five-fold since 2000 when the total cases were about 1,100, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A variety of factors may be contributing to the increase, according to the CDC. More awareness of the disease could mean more reporting. But there's more susceptible testing and aging population is more susceptible. Legionella in the environment.
In Georgia, there have been close to 90 confirmed cases this year, according to the State Department of Public Health. Last year, there were 180 confirmed cases and nine suspected cases in the state. That's from 41 in 2008.
Since Legionnaires' is not a communicable disease, it is often not seen "as other diseases like measles, said Allison Chamberlain, at Emory University infectious disease epidemiologist who
"It's the sort of thing we might not think will happen because we have such a trust in our water supply, but this particular pathogen can flourish in what we think of as safe water," she says
While Chamberlain encourages greater awareness about the disease, she said there's no need to take drastic action.
"You have to live, and you can not stop traveling," said Chamberlain. "Legionnaires' is.
About one in 10 people who come down with Legionnaires' disease due to complications from the illness, the CDC said.
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