The 763-room Sheraton Atlanta Hotel closed Monday after reports that three confirmed cases of Legionnaires' Disease might have originated at the property. Nearly 450 guests currently are being relocated from the hotel, which will remain closed until further notice while officials investigate the possible presence of harmful Legionella bacteria on-site.
Some guests reportedly began complaining of lung issues after a recent convention took place at the hotel. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, Legionella can cause a serious type of pneumonia and lung inflammation in those exposed to it. People can contract Legionnaires’ disease (or the less-threatening Pontiac fever) when they inhale droplets of water in the air containing the bacteria, which thrives in warm water and becomes a health concern when spread throughout human-made water systems like:
- Shower heads and faucets
- Cooling towers (structures containing water as part of air-cooling systems)
- Hot tubs
- Decorative fountains and water features
- Hot-water tanks and heaters
- Large plumbing system
Ken Peduzzi, general manager of the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, released a statement on Monday evening:
"The health and safety of our guests is our greatest priority. We are working closely with public health officials and outside experts to conduct testing to determine if Legionella is present at the hotel. As a result, out of an abundance of caution we have made the decision to close the hotel while we await the results. The Sheraton Atlanta is currently working to relocate its guests to nearby hotels. It is also reaching out to guests with upcoming reservations to assist in directing them to other nearby hotels. Guests whose reservations have been canceled will receive a full refund."
The Georgia Department of Health also commented on Monday, stating it is "working with the Fulton County Board of Health to investigate reported cases of Legionella related to the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Atlanta. The hotel is cooperating in the investigation."