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A Miami hotel has had to move about 400 guests to other nearby hotels to protect them from Legionnaires’ disease. Three of the hotel’s guests contracted this disease and one has died. The hotel is a luxury EPIC hotel in downtown Miami that opened about one year ago. It is temporarily not accepting any guests.

Apparently, the bacteria were in the hotel’s water supply, where a powerful filter had been installed that removed too much of the water’s chlorine. The hotel’s intention had been to improve drinking water quality. Miami, like many cities, uses chlorine to rid its city water supply of bacteria.

The hotel guest who died from Legionnaires’ was a European who had stayed at the hotel about three months ago and then left on a cruise. He was later rushed to a hospital and died there and that news has just now reached the hotel. The other two people who became sick were at the hotel in November and their diagnoses were not revealed to the hotel until now.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

It is a severe form of pneumonia that first appeared back in 1976 at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia; hence the name. The bacteria was unknown until then and is now called Legionella pneumophila. It lives in water.

Legionnaires’ is not transmitted by personal interaction but most often by inhaling the bacteria along with fine particles in the air. Those particles come from infected water and in a hotel they could be spread by the air conditioning system, hot water system, ice machines, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, or simple showers.

Miami officials tested water samples from the hotel and found that the chlorine levels were too low to prevent bacterial growth. The hotel now plans to adjust its water system to prevent incoming city water from flowing through the filter; and the city plans to triple chlorine levels temporarily to reduce bacterial numbers.

Although Legionnaires’ disease gets a lot of media coverage, it is not a threat to public health, since it is not transmitted personally. A lot of research has been done on it since 1976 and there are some guidelines and regulations to hopefully prevent any outbreaks.

However, when a hotel’s water supply is found to be the cause of an outbreak, that hotel can be held liable for sickness or death among its guests. Premises liability law requires that a landlord or hotel owner keep the premises safe for residents and guests.

If you have been injured while on another person’s property and are wondering whether the property owner might be held responsible for your injury, please contact our premises liability attorneys today for a free consultation.

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