Four Guests Diagnosed: Legionnaires’ Disease Reported

Acknowledgement to Ironshore Environmental

Oct. 18, 2008
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Bacterium found at Polo Towers

By ANNETTE WELLS
REVIEW-JOURNAL

The Southern Nevada Health District issued a warning to past and present guests of Polo Towers on Friday that a bacterium common in warm water that causes Legionnaires’ disease was discovered in the resort’s water system.

The health district, along with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, took water samples at the resort recently after four guests were diagnosed with the disease. Two of the guests were diagnosed in August and September, and two others in 2007, health officials said.

All four guests of the resort diagnosed with the sometimes deadly disease were treated successfully, they said.

“This does not affect the municipal water system,” said Jennifer Sizemore, a health district spokeswoman.

Legionnaires’ disease takes its name from an outbreak at the Pennsylvania American Legion convention held at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia in July 1976 blamed for 34 deaths.

It is a waterborne disease, a serious form of pneumonia caused by the legionella bacterium. People get it when they breathe in mist or vapor that has been contaminated.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills, dry cough, muscle aches, headache, and loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. The symptoms usually begin two to 14 days after exposure, health officials said.

The disease can cause death in 5 to 30 percent of cases.

Sizemore said the health district has posted a letter on the resort’s Web site and notified past guests about the issue. She said the district and the resort are working to fix the problem.

Simon Crawford-Welch, president and chief operating officer of Diamond Resorts International, said the bacterium was confined to four rooms out of 800 and that the organization is working with the health district.  He said Diamond Resorts, which operates 150 resorts in 17 countries, has closed and secured those rooms and informed guests and employees by mail about the disease.

Crawford-Welch said the resort has also set up toll-free telephone numbers to answer guests’ questions. The resort’s numbers are 866-309-7318 or 702-261-1000.

In addition, the resort has initiated super chlorination treatment on its hot water system and is working with a third-party engineer water systems company to survey Polo Towers.

This isn’t the first time the legionella bacterium has been found at Polo Towers.

Several of the resort’s floors were closed in 2001 after the bacterium was found in several cooling systems. During that outbreak, three guests who had stayed at the resort were diagnosed with the disease.

The CDC estimates that 8,000 to 18,000 people get Legionnaires’ disease in the United States each year.

Anyone who has stayed at the resort in the past 14 days and developed symptoms is urged to contact the health district.

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