SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Legionnaires’ disease has been making the headlines in Georgia, after dozens of guests at an Atlanta hotel learned that they may have been exposed to the bacteria.
The bacteria that causes the disease, Legionella, are naturally found in the environment, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. People can contract the disease, which is a serious type of pneumonia, when they breathe in water droplets out of the air that contain the bacteria.
An outbreak has the Shertaon Atlanta Hotel shut down until the source of the outbreak is located.
WTOC caught up with a doctor at Memorial on Monday who says the general message is to just be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease.
“So, what we’re advising to families is if they have been traveling, because that’s one of our risks of exposure since we don’t really have this risk in our homes, that if we’re developing symptoms fitting with pneumonia like a fever, cough, feeling sore or achy all over, and you have concerns that you might have been exposed to Legionella, reach out to your primary care doctor or the Department of Public Health, and let your concerns be known,” said Dr. Stephen Thacker, Director, Pediatric Infectious Disease.
Dr. Thacker says in his seven plus years in Chatham County, he hasn’t seen any pediatric cases of Legionnaires', and perhaps only a handful of adult cases. Those have been primarily tied to travel.
He also points out that not everyone exposed to the bacteria contracts the disease. Those most vulnerable include people over 50, current or former smokers, and people with chronic lung diseases or weak immune systems.