Legionnaire's Disease: What Happens In Vegas…

Legionnaire's Disease: What Happens In Vegas…

Six cases of Legionnaire's disease have been reported from the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, with more reports likely. Legionnaire's disease is a bit of a mystery to many people, and a curse to anyone charged with running a large facility.
Legionnaire's disease is named after its first known occurrence, when a bunch of Legionnaires suddenly contracted a mysterious pneumonia-like disease at once, back in 1976. In the end, 221 cases were reported, with 34 deaths. (Many Legionnaires are elderly, and are thus more susceptible to respiratory diseases.)
The outbreak was eventually traced back to an American Legion convention at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, where they had gathered to celebrate the Bicentennial. The outbreak happened while the nation was debating the possibility of a major swine flu outbreak (similar to our national conversation - slash - panic in 2009), and the CDC launched "an unprecedented investigation" to track down the source and identity of the contagion.
It took seven months, but they finally narrowed it down to one particular bug - named the Legionella bacteria - which had begun breeding in one particular cooling tower of the hotel's HVAC system. The HVAC system is a perfect place for germs to breed, because the air conditioning system pushes them through the entire system. And the damp, warm conditions that can be found in poorly maintained HVAC systems are perfect for breeding Legionella.
Legionnaire's disease is frequently an industrial beast. It has caused outbreaks from cooling towers in several locations (the humidity and condensation, combined with warm air being brought in, is perfect for Legionella). But it can occur at home, too. A 2010 study by a UK health agency found that up to 20% of cases may occur because drivers have opted to use plain water in their cars' windshield washing fluid reservoirs. (Window cleaner kills the Legionella bacteria.) The water is sprayed on the windshield, and droplets are sucked into your car's air vents, and from there into your lungs.
Indoor fountains, hot tubs (123 people contracted Legionnaire's disease from a hot tub at the Playboy Mansion during a 2011 fundraiser), and humidifiers can also harbor Legionella in the home. Any source of water that isn't regularly changed should always have antibacterial agents added (or the water changed!) in order to prevent Legionella infection.
Legionnaire's disease can be fatal for between 5%-30% of the people who contract it. The symptoms include fever, cough, chills, aches, and other pneumonia-like symptoms. The lesson being, when in doubt, see a doctor!