Hawaii’s Department of Health recently released a statement to Hawaii News Now alerting the public that at least two guests at the WorldMark Kapa`a Shore Resort contracted Legionnaires’ disease between late April and early May of this year. The two confirmed cases, according to Hawaii Department of Health spokesperson Janice Okubo, are recovering from the illness in their home states. The health department is still investigating a third possible case.
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal disease that occurs when people breathe in water vapor or aspirate potable water contaminated with Legionella pneumonia bacteria. Common sources include hotel hot tubs / spas, drinking fountains, architectural water features, cooling towers, and heating / cooling systems.
According to a recent Vital Signs report issued by the Centers for Disease Control, cases of the dangerous sickness have more than quadrupled since 2000, despite the fact that the disease is highly preventable when careful water system maintenance and testing practices are performed. 9 in 10 Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, states the CDC, could have been avoided if appropriate water management practices had been observed. Legionnaires’ disease kills 10% of the patients it infects (this percentage skyrockets to <50% when people who are already ill catch it in a healthcare environment).
The early symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, which arise within 2 to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria, can include cough, shortness of breath, headaches, high fever, muscle aches, confusion / delirium, diarrhea, and nausea. In susceptible individuals – people over 50, smokers, the immune-compromised, and those with underlying medical conditions like diabetes, COPD, or cancer – the disease then progresses to become a severe, life-threatening form of pneumonia requiring hospitalization.
Wyndham Resorts owns the Kapa`a Shore Resort, a 49-unit section of a shared resort at 4-0900 Kuhio Highway on the island of Kauai. According to a statement emailed by the resort to Hawaii News Now, “the presence of Legionella bacteria was found in two units at the resort.”
Guests were moved to other local hotels. The Kapa`a Shore Resort has been temporarily closed for Legionnaires’ disease remediation.