Saturday, September 1, 2012

Legionella outbreak in Chicago

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that 10 cases of legionellosis have been linked to the JW Marriott in downtown Chicago during the time period July 16 through August 15. Three of the infected persons have died. The epidemiologic investigation has determined  that the epidemic strain has been found in a decorative fountain in the hotel lobby, as well as the swimming pool, whirlpool and locker rooms. Showerheads in guest rooms have not been found to be contaminated with the organism. The article also briefly mentions that "many" cases of Pontiac Fever, a less severe infection also caused by Legionella, are linked to the hotel.

Maybe we should just enjoy decorative water fountains outdoors. I'm aware of a recent case where infection prevention folks had to nix an architect's plan to construct an indoor water feature in a children's hospital despite reports of nosocomial legionellosis associated with these decorative fountains. Give us more sinks, not fountains!

Photo:  Legionella culture under ultraviolet light. CDC

1 comment:

  1. I'm a retired IP. In the mid-1990's the then CEO of my large university teaching hospital overrode my veto of a "water feature" (a water wall) in the main lobby of our new expanded hospital. We were a facility with known legionella colonization in both potable and non-potable sites. After many months of attempting to make the CEO mandated water wall as safe as possible, we required weekly bromination (it smelled like a heavily chlorinated hot tub) with monitoring via swimming pool test kit and periodic culturing.
    Interestingly, we also had to put a small wall in front of the water wall to block access because children were witnessed putting hands into, and drinking from the water wall. Cultures never did yield legionella, but were initially overgrown with enterics (pre-bromine). The feature was removed ~12 years later during yet another expansion project.
    I agree, more sinks not water features.