The La Quinta Inn at 2979 Millbranch Road in Memphis has been closed indefinitely due to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. According to Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) officials, reports have been confirmed that five people who were guests at the hotel, located near Memphis International Airport, have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia.
Shelby officials have called upon the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to collaborate in what will be a multi-state investigation of the outbreak. According to The Commercial Appeal, Shelby Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter announced that the five guests who contracted the dangerous illness stayed at the La Quinta at some point in August: “In the best interests of the public, the decision was made to close the entire hotel until we have additional information.” (1) Further information regarding the current conditions of the victims is unknown.
Health officials and epidemiologists will now investigate the outbreak to try to find a common source of transmission. SCHD’s chief of epidemiology, David Sweat, has announced that the length of time the La Quinta will remain closed “depends upon what we find in the environmental assessment that’s going on.” (2)
Legionnaires’ disease, also known as legionellosis, is transmitted when Legionella pneumonia bacteria, having proliferated in poorly maintained water systems such as cooling towers or hot tubs, are aerosolized in water vapor. When people breathe in the aerosolized mist or aspirate contaminated water into their lungs, they can contract Legionnaires’ disease. While most healthy people who contract legionellosis only experience mild illness, the disease can be deadly to the elderly, smokers, those with weakened immune systems, or people who have underlying respiratory illness, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, cancer, or HIV.
- Charlier, Tom. “Memphis hotel shut down after outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease confirmed.” The Commercial Appeal. Web. 22 Sep. 2016.