Two people recently contracted Legionnaires’ disease in a hotel in Las Vegas. The guests stayed at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, located at 3700 W Flamingo Road. According to health officials, one of the guests stayed in March and the other one in April.

Legionnaires’ disease causes symptoms similar to those of pneumonia, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.

Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Image credit:
Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Image credit:

The district confirmed that shortly after the guests tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, the hotel tested its water. The district noted that the results came back positive for Legionella bacteria.

Two people contracted the disease at the Rio hotel, which is being ‘remediated’

With directions of health officials from the district, the Rio hotel began using chlorine at high temperatures to disinfect every room, as well as the water system on Thursday night, said Mark Bergholdt, an environmental health supervisor.

The disinfection of the hotel or “remediation” process would be repeated on Friday night and possibly Saturday night again, according to Bergtholdt. The disinfection process will include every room in one particular Rio tower. However, the hotel did not disclose which tower was being disinfected.

“The company is working closely with the Southern Nevada Health District and taking aggressive remediation actions to ensure the safety of Rio’s water,” said in a statement Jennifer Forkish, vice president of communications for Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns Rio, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are relocating guests from room where remediation actions are being undertaken.”

The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino said it is also taking measures to provide information to the past and current guests on the property, according to the statement issued Friday by the health district. Health officials will continue investigating the case. If anyone who visited the Rio hotel may think they contracted the illness, they should visit their healthcare providers immediately.

However, guests who stayed at the hotel more than two weeks ago and have not developed symptoms are not at risk for disease, said the health district. It is still unclear how the Southern Nevada Health District linked the two cases with the Rio.

Legionnaires’ disease is contracted from contaminated water in human-made water systems

Legionellosis is a respiratory disease caused by Legionella bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sometimes the bacteria can cause a severe type of pneumonia which is what it’s known as Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria can also cause a mild infection called Pontiac fever, which has symptoms similar to a mild case of the flu.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include coughing, shortness of breath, muscle aches, fever, and headaches. The disease has also been linked with other symptoms such as diarrhea, confusion, and nausea. The symptoms usually begin 2 to 10 days after being exposed, but they can start being two weeks later.

Legionella bacteria can cause a severe type of pneumonia which is what it's known as Legionnaires' disease. Image credit:
Legionella bacteria can cause a severe type of pneumonia which is what it’s known as Legionnaires’ disease. Image credit:

Legionella is a bacteria that is typically found in freshwater environments, such as lakes or streams. However, it can become a health concern when it spreads in human-made water systems like showers, cooling towers, hot tubs that aren’t drained after every use, decorative fountains and water features, hot water tanks and heaters, and large plumbing systems.

According to the CDC, the disease spreads after the bacteria grows and multiplies in a building water system and the contaminated water spreads into droplets small enough for people to breathe in.

The CDC said that people can also contract the disease by aspiration of drinking water, which occurs when the water goes down “the wrong pipe.” However, it is less common for people to contract the disease like that; but people with swallowing difficulties should be cautious, as they are at increased risk.

Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, noted the CDC. They say that people at higher risk of getting Legionnaires’ disease include 50-year-old people or older, former or current smokers, people with a chronic lung disease, people with weak immune systems, people with cancer or illnesses like diabetes, and kidney or liver failure.

The Rio Hotel is currently hosting the 48th World Series of Poker

The disease got its name from a deadly outbreak in 1976 in Philadelphia, in which the majority of the people affected were in town attending and American Legion convention.

In 2011, an individual who stayed at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas died after contracting Legionnaires’ disease, according to the health district. At that time, several cases were identified in the Luxor hotel, including guests and workers.

The CDC said that most patients who contract Legionnaires’ disease fully recover after treatment with antibiotics. However, the agency adds that about 10 percent die because of complications from their illness.

The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino is currently hosting the 48th World Series of Poker, which started in late May and will conclude with the main event in mid-July.

Source: Las Vegas Review Journal