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Preliminary test show Legionnaires’ bacteria in West County hotel water sources

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Wednesday night issued a statement saying that preliminary test was positive for the presence of the Legionnaire's bacterium at the St. Louis Marriott West.  The preliminary results indicated a positive test for water used for drinking, showers and in the cooling tower at the hotel.  A public health advisory had been issued last Thursday for people who stayed at a west St. Louis County hotel on or after October 1 after two visitors tested positive for Legionnaires' disease.

Health officials determined two people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in October and November and they stayed at the hotel during the same period covering October 1. It is believed both visitors may have come in contact with an unspecified water source during that time.

The individuals with Legionnaires’ disease were not together at the hotel.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people typically cannot spread Legionnaires' disease to one another, although it does occur on rare occasion.

"We believe the risk of Legionnaires' disease is low. Your individual risk may increase if you are 50 years or older, smoke cigarettes, or have certain medical conditions, such as a weakened immune system," the DHSS says.

People contract the illness by breathing in small water droplets containing the Legionella bacterium. Legionella grows and spreads in building water systems such as:

  • Showerheads and sink faucets
  • Cooling towers (structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air-cooling systems for building or industrial processes)
  • Hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
  • Decorative fountains and water features
  • Hot water tanks and heaters
  • Large plumbing systems

The St. Louis Marriott West has been cooperating with the DHSS to investigate the matter. Thus far, culture test result are not available yet as it takes time to grow.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease are similar to pneumonia: coughing, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches, as well as nausea and diarrhea.

Health officials have advised anyone who stayed at the hotel around October 1 and exhibit symptoms to seek immediate medical attention and have their doctor conduct a urine test and obtain a respiratory culture.

Marriott West Hotel released this statement about the outbreak: "The health and well-being of our guests and team members is our top priority. As soon as we were made aware of the situation, we fully cooperated with the health department to allow them to test and evaluate all of the hotel's systems. Preliminary traces of the bacteria were discovered in some of the samples. While MO DHSS is waiting for the final culture tests, which will take up to 10 days to grow, we are working closely with them on a plan of action to eradicate the bacteria and create and maintain a safe environment for everyone. We will continue to update everyone as the solutions are implemented and systems are re-tested for safety."

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