By Alison Fox
July 30, 2019
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An Atlanta hotel has been linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease after 11 people were diagnosed and another 55 are suspected to have contracted it, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Officials confirmed the first cases of the disease at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel in Downtown Atlanta about two weeks ago, and the hotel has since voluntarily closed. Public health officials are reviewing hundreds of surveys of guests who stayed at the hotel between June 12 and July 15.

On July 19, officials started collecting samples in the form of water and swabs from hotel fixtures, The New York Times reported.

Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia typically caused by inhaling the legionella bacteria, according to the Mayo Clinic. You cannot catch the disease from person-to-person contact. Symptoms typically include headache, muscle pains, chills, and a high fever, and can progress to include a cough that may be bloody, shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, and confusion.

About 6,100 cases of Legionnaires' disease were reported in the U.S. in 2016, according to Georgia public health officials, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. Last year, there were 189 cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported in Georgia.

According to Georgia health officials, a “probable” case includes people who have exhibited symptoms consistent with Legionnaires’ disease, but have not had laboratory confirmation.

Nancy Nydam, the director of communications at the Georgia Department of Public Health, told CNN that medical investigators have not yet found the source of the infection.

"Based on epidemiological evidence we have an outbreak among people who stayed at the (Sheraton Atlanta) during the same time period," she said.

CNN affiliate WSB-TV reported that more than 400 guests have been relocated to nearby hotels.

This is not the first time Legionnaires’ disease has wreaked havoc on tourists. Notably, Disneyland in California was forced to shut down a pair of cooling towers after people who visited the park contracted Legionnaires’ disease in 2017.

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