Two guests staying at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier this year, contracted Legionnaires’ disease. Health care officials in the state tested the water and found traces of the potentially deadly bacteria prompting Rio executives to move current guests to other locations. The staff at the Rio Hotel and officials at the Southern Nevada Health District are actively working on disinfecting the water system at the resort to prevent any further harm.
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a bacteria, the Legionella, a type of pneumonia. Usually found in fresh water, it can pollute hot water tanks, showers, faucets, and hot tubs that are not properly drained and cleaned after each use, fountains, large plumbing systems, and large air conditioners. Legionnaires’ disease is most typically spread by breathing in the air containing the bacteria or by accidentally aspirating water, causing water to go into the windpipe instead of the digestive tract.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most healthy people do not get sick from Legionnaires’ disease. However, individuals who are older than 50 years; current and former smokers; people with chronic lung disease, weak immune systems, or cancer; or people with other illnesses such as liver or kidney failure or diabetes. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can include coughing, the inability to take a deep breath, high fever, achy muscles, and severe headaches. The CDC reported that other symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and confusion could also be attributed to the disease. Antibiotics are used to treat it. If the condition is left untreated, lung failure and death can occur.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, the executive vice president of public affairs and corporate communications of Caesars Entertainment, the parent company of Rio, Richard Broome, said that because of the outbreak, they were moving guests from the rooms where Legionnaires’ disease might be to other clean guest rooms. The two infected guests stayed at the Rio in the early spring of this year. This is not the first time Las Vegas has seen Legionnaires’ disease. In 2011 guests at the Luxor and the Aira contracted Legionnaires’ disease.
The staff at the Rio flushed chlorine heated at high temperatures to kill and disinfect the water system. Mark Bergtholdt, the Southern Nevada Health District’s environmental health supervisor, is overlooking the process, the Las Vegas Review-Journal said. The whole process may take as long as three days to fully clean the system. Rio staff is working “closely” with the Southern Nevada Health District, said Jennifer Forkish, a vice president of communications for Caesars Entertainment.
CNN reported that the two guests stayed separately at the Rio. The Southern Nevada Health District went on to say that any guest who stayed at the Rio more than two weeks ago and “have not developed symptoms are not at risk for disease.”
By Cheryl Werber