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2 Dead in Chicago Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak

A deadly outbreak of Legionnaire's disease has been traced to contamination at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in downtown Chicago. So far, there have been eight reported cases of the disease. Two of the victims have died.

Legionnaires' disease is a sometimes-fatal bacterial infection of the lungs. Essentially, it is a very severe form of pneumonia. However, unlike most disease, Legionnaires' is not caused by person-to-person contact. Instead, the disease is contracted after inhaling aerosolized Legionella bacteria. Often, outbreaks can be traced to contaminated water sources in places like hotels, cruise ships, hospitals and nursing homes.

Authorities discovered that the J.W. Marriott Hotel was the source of the most recent Chicago Legionnaire's disease after retracing the eight victims' steps over the last couple of months. All eight had stayed at the hotel between July 16 and August 15.

Health department officials say that the source of the exposure has been identified and that the risk of infection has been eliminated. In the meantime, the hotel's fountain, pool and spa were drained in effort to prevent the further spread of the disease.

Still, approximately 8,500 guests stayed at the hotel during the period that the contamination was active. There is no telling how many might develop symptoms. The Chicago Department of Public Heath has set up a hotline for people who may have been exposed to the dangerous bacteria; so far, it has received approximately 100 calls.

Rights of Chicago Legionnaires' Victims

In most cases, an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease occurs because the property owner did not maintain its facilities in a reasonably safe condition. Individuals who contract Legionnaire's disease have a right to seek compensation for the harm that has been done to them.

Source: NBC Chicago, "2 Die from Legionnaires' Hotel Outbreak," Dick Johnson, August 28, 2012.

To learn more about protecting your rights after contracting Legionnaires' disease, please visit our Legionnaires' Disease page.

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