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Epic Hotel Guest Dies of Legionnaires' Disease

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 16, 2009 11:50 AM

A foreign guest staying at the posh Miami Epic Hotel has died of Legionnaires' disease. CBS reports that as a result of the death coupled with two other guest contracting the disease since October has forced the hotel to voluntarily relocate more than 400 hotel guests and residents.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionnaires' disease is caused by breathing in vapor or mist that has been contaminated with the Legionella bacteria. It is typically found in warm water in places like hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, and parts of air conditioning systems. It is not spread from person to person.

CBS reports that a doctor from Miami-Dade County Health Dept. has said that water samples from the luxury hotel did not have chlorine levels high enough to stave off bacterial growth.  

Individuals most susceptible to Legionnaires' disease are people 65 years and older, smokers, people with chronic lung disease, and people with weaker immune systems.

Some symptoms of the disease include: high fever, chills, a cough, muscle aches and headaches.

Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics [drugs that kill bacteria in the body], and healthy people usually recover from infection.

The hotel has announced that it will be working with the health department to inspect its water system. It will also provide remedial measures in conjunction with the health department. The hotel will be closing its doors to new hotel guests and relocate current hotel guests to local area hotels. The hotel refuses to confirm that it is a source of any illness and calls all of these measures as precautionary ones.

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