ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed Monday that three new cases of Legionnaires' were confirmed connected to a downtown Atlanta hotel. It brings the total number of cases to nine.
All of them involve individuals who stayed at or visited the Sheraton Atlanta between late June and early July.
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The hotel, which closed its doors on July 15, said it would remain closed through at least Aug. 11 as they continue testing and trying to find the source.
Hotel management said as soon as they learned of the possible Legionella exposure, the hotel "retained outside environmental consultants and is presently collecting samples at the hotel."
"At this time it remains unknown if the source of the exposure is located within the hotel," said Ken Peduzzi, the Sheraton Atlanta's general manager.
Samples are being collected from various areas of the hotel, including the pool, hot tub, fountain and chillers.
The hotel said they will assist guests who have upcoming reservations in finding nearby hotels. Guests whose reservations have been canceled will receive a full refund.
Legionnaires' disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by bacteria known as legionella.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionnaires' disease can cause pneumonia symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headache and fever.
People can catch the disease by inhaling the bacteria in a public place. It can't be passed by skin from person to person.
"It’s usually in the air, in water droplets like a mist that you might come across from air conditioner, the shower, a spa, something like that," explained 11Alive medical correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy.
While Legionnaires' disease is serious, it can be treated with antibiotics. Most people who get sick need hospitalization, but make a full recovery.