Doug / 03-18-2008 / Tourist Injuries

Legionnaires’ Disease Attacks Florida Tourists

Orange County Health Department director Dr. Kevin Sherin has reported two incidents of Legionnaires’ disease in Orlando. The out-of-state tourists had both stayed at the Quality Inn Suites just off International Drive near Universal Studios, then travelled to Pinellas County where the disease was diagnosed.

The hotel operators voluntarily closed the hotel for a short time on Friday as state inspectors sampled water from the hotel pool and spa. Air quality tests continued to be taken this week. However, it may not be known for a couple of weeks if the hotel was the source of the disease due to the testing process.

The Center for Disease Control defines legionnaires’ disease as –

Legionellosis is an infection caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. The disease has two distinct forms: Legionnaires’ disease, the more severe form of infection which includes pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a milder illness.

Legionnaires’ disease acquired its name in 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among persons attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. Later, the bacterium causing the illness was named Legionella.

The symptoms for Legionnaires is similar to many other types of pneumonia so sometimes it is difficult for physicians to diagnose. But the symptoms include

a high fever, chills, and a cough. Some people may also suffer from muscle aches and headaches. Chest X-rays are needed to find the pneumonia caused by the bacteria, and other tests can be done on sputum (phlegm), as well as blood or urine to find evidence of the bacteria in the body. These symptoms usually begin 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the bacteria.

Because the disease is not transmitted from human to human, there is normally no public notice given for cases of Legionnaires’ unless there are 2 or more cases from the same location. However, once contracted, it is estimated that approximately 20% die from it.

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