Nevada health officials found Legionella bacteria in water samples at the Luxor in Las Vegas this month after receiving notice that a prior guest at the hotel-casino had died from Legionnaires’ disease.
The public health notice issued by the Southern Nevada Health District on Monday said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerted the agency to three Luxor guests who were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
Two cases were reported in spring 2011, but water samples taken at that time didn’t detect the bacteria and both patients recovered. The third case was reported in January -- no name or details about the victim were given -- and the hotel’s water again was tested. “At this time environmental sampling was positive for Legionella bacteria,” the notice says.
The Luxor took steps to treat the water in the room where the deceased guest stayed within 24 hours of receiving notice, according to media reports. Gordon Absher, vice president of public affairs for MGM Resorts International, which owns the Luxor, says the company is embarking on a voluntary remediation of the entire hotel. The hotel also posted information about the disease on a Web page and has a hotline for guests to call.
Brian Labus, senior epidemiologist at the health district, says the bacteria may grow in shower heads or other water fixtures in hotel rooms that haven’t been used for a while so water doesn’t circulate regularly. “There’s nothing you can do as a guest to prevent it,” he says.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that can be fatal in 5% to 30% of cases, especially among the elderly and people with respiratory problems. It’s transmitted by breathing in vapor or mist tainted by bacteria, not by person-to-person contact, and the incubation period is 2 to 14 days. Symptoms include high fever, chills, cough and sometimes muscle aches, the health district’s notice says.
Last July, six cases of Legionniares’ disease were reported to the CDC by people who had stayed at the Aria Resort & Casino, which is partly owned by MGM Resorts. All patients were treated and recovered. In that instance, Absher says the hotel sent out 14,000 letters and posted a notice on its website to inform prior guests about the possibility of having been exposed to the bacteria. (A civil lawsuit filed over those cases is pending.)