Legionnaires’ disease is a very serious lung infection caused by the bacteria called Legionella. It is usually spread through water droplets in the air. Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are often associated with large or complex water systems like those found in hospitals, hotels and cruise ships.
Legionella is naturally found in water, especially warm water. Hot tubs (or spas) that are not cleaned and disinfected enough can become contaminated with Legionella. A person can get infected with Legionella when they breathe in steam or mist from a contaminated hot tub.
Legionnaires’ disease CANNOT be spread from person to person.
Legionnaires’ disease can cause pneumonia symptoms. If you experience coughing, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headache, or fever, see a doctor right away. Be sure to mention if you have used a hot tub, spend nights away from home, or stayed in a hospital in the last two weeks.
Legionnaire’ disease is serious but can be treated with antibiotics. Most people who get sick, need care in a hospital, but make a full recovery.
Certain people are at an increased risk for Legionnaires’ disease. Most healthy people do not get sick after exposure to Legionella. The following groups are at an increased risk:
- People 50 years or older
- Current or former smokers
- People with a chronic lung disease, such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- People with a weakened immune system from diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure
- People who take drugs that weaken the immune system
Because high water temperatures make it hard to maintain the disinfectant levels needed to kill germs like Legionella, making sure that the hot tub has the right disinfectant and pH levels is essential. Here are some things you can do to determine whether a hot tub has been properly maintained:
Testing Hot Tub Water
- Purchase pool test strips at your local home improvement or pool supply store (be sure to check the expiration date).
- Use the test strips to check hot tub water for free chlorine (2–4 parts per million [ppm]) or bromine (4–6 ppm) and pH (7.2–7.8) levels.
- If you find improper chlorine, bromine, and/or pH levels, tell the hot tub operator or owner immediately.
Questioning Your Hot Tub Operator
- What was the most recent health inspection score for the hot tub?
- Are disinfectant and pH levels checked at least twice per day?
- Are disinfectant and pH levels checked more often when the hot tub is being used by a lot of people?
- Are the following maintenance activities performed regularly:
- Removal of the slime or biofilm layer by scrubbing and cleaning?
- Replacement of the hot tub water filter according to manufacturer’s recommendations?
- Replacement of hot tub water?
CURRENT OUTBREAK:[as Wednesday, July 19, 2017]
Location: The Guest House at Graceland, 3600 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, 38116
Hotel Status: The aquatics facilities have been authorized to reopen. Sampling that occurred after remediation demonstrated no viable legionella bacteria.
Date Range: May 15 through June 26, 2017
Number of Confirmed Cases: 9 (nine)
Individuals who visited the Guest House at Graceland, located at 3600 Elvis Presley Blvd., between May 15 and June 26, 2017 and have experienced any of the signs or symptoms of Legionnaires Disease should contact the Shelby County Health Department Investigation Hotline at (901) 222-9299.
**If you stayed at the hotel during the time frame we are investigating, we would like to learn more about your health and travel through the following survey. The information will be used for public health purposes only and will be kept confidential to the extent allowed by law. If you complete the survey, the information you provide us could help to prevent water-borne illnesses from occurring in other places. You may open the survey by either clicking the link below into your browser.**