Faulty filter at Miami hotel leads to illness, death

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A high end boutique hotel in Miami was forced to move some 300 guests after several were sickened—and one died—from infection with the bacteria Legionella, the cause of Legionnaire’s disease, the New York Times reports. Since October, three hotel guests fell ill and one died from Legionnaires, a severe form of pneumonia that generally hits older people, smokers and those with already weakened immune systems hardest. Health officials say that a powerful filter removed too much chlorine from the incoming water supply, enabling the bacteria to grow and spread.

The first guest of the Epic hotel became ill in October, and later died after setting off for a cruise. The other two guests were sickened by the bacteria in November, but have since recovered, according to Miami-Dade health officials, who are now searching for any other guests who may have come into contact with the bacteria.

Health officials say that the problem is likely limited to the Epic hotel, and there should be no broader cause for concern because the disease is not spread person to person. Legionnaires’ disease was first identified in 1976, when there was an outbreak at a convention of the American Legion. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as many as 18,000 people are hospitalized with the disease each year.