One European tourist has died and two have fallen ill with suspected Legionnaire’s disease, and a swanky Miami hotel has been evacuated.
Reports indicate that water contaminated with the deadly bacteria may be to blame at Miami’s EPIC hotel, and approximately 400 guests have been relocated while the problem is resolved. It is believed that a new, more powerful water filtration system in the hotel removed chlorine from the water as well as contaminants, allowing the dangerous Legionella bacteria to flourish. While the hotel isn’t officially closed, it has ceased accepting new reservations in a voluntary move to protect guests.
In an unrelated case, a 56-year-old Gainesville man died last week after being exposed to Legionnaire’s in contaminated water at Shands Cancer Hospital. Legionnaire’s Disease is not spread person to person, but by aspirating water carrying the bacteria. The disease has a mortality rate fluctuating from 5 to 30% of those infected.
The EPIC hotel released a statement addressing concerns about the incident:
“The EPIC Hotel has voluntarily partnered with the Miami-Dade Health Department to notify guests and staff of the possible presence of bacteria in its water system, and to engage in water remediation efforts.
“Though not currently accepting guests, the hotel remains in operation and is focused on minimizing guest inconvenience. Simultaneously, the hotel is working toward a quick and thorough resolution of the matter.
“The EPIC Hotel has taken the following precautionary measures under the guidance and direction of the health department to provide for the health and safety of its guests and staff. Steps taken thus far are as follows:
- Immediate notification and communication of precautionary measures to guests and staff
- Relocation of guests to area hotels to maximize guest care and minimize inconvenience
- Efforts underway to notify future guests booked during this time, to make alternative arrangements
- Worked together with the health department to conduct a thorough inspection of the hotel’s water system
- Proceeded with all remedial procedures in conjunction with the health department to restore full system operations
“EPIC is working towards a quick and thorough resolution to the water issue, and looks forward to welcoming its guests back as soon as possible.”