August 6, 2019 – On Tuesday, officials in Atlanta, Georgia, confirmed a woman died from Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Sheraton Atlanta hotel, CNN reported.
Legionnaires’ disease comes from the Legionella bacteria, which grows in warm fresh water like lakes and streams and then spreads to man-made water systems. “Usually outbreaks happen where there is a communal water source, like at hotels,” Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist, told INSIDER.
According to the CDC, most people who come into contact with the legionella bacteria don’t get sick with Legionnaires’ disease, but there are certain factors that may make an individual more susceptible to the illness. Additionally, sink faucets, shower heads, and the water tanks that power these sources can act as the perfect breeding ground for Legionella bacteria. “In a small space where water doesn’t flow that great, Legionella can replicate and grow to very large numbers and when human beings inhale those sources, infection can happen,” Dr. Kesh said.
Although a person dying from a bacterial disease like Legionnaires’ can cause public alarm, Dr. Kesh said it’s a very treatable infection that’s relatively rare. She added that an uptick in cases doesn’t mean Legionella bacteria is more pervasive, but that people are likely becoming more health-literate and going to doctors as soon as they notice symptoms, causing more cases to be reported overall.