First Legionnaires’ death linked to Atlanta outbreak confirmed

First Legionnaires’ death linked to Sheraton Atlanta confirmed

One of the people sickened with Legionnaires’ disease linked to an outbreak at the Sheraton Atlanta has died, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The state health department said Tuesday there has been a total of 12 lab-confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease (which includes the one death) and 61 probable cases. The suspected cases have not been  been confirmed in a lab, but they include people who had illnesses consistent with Legionnaires’ disease, such as pneumonia, the DPH said in a news release.

Close to three weeks ago, the Courtland Street hotel shut down voluntarily after three guests who had recently visited or stayed there tested positive for the disease, which can cause a potentially serious lung infection, AJC.com previously reported. The numbers have continued to climb.

People who are older than 50, have medical conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or diabetes, or have a history of smoking are the most likely to face dire effects. But no other deaths have been reported, according to the DPH.

Investigators have yet to determine whether the hotel is indeed the source of the outbreak, but the Sheraton Atlanta will remain closed until at least Aug. 11.

MORE: What is Legionnaires' disease? FAQs about the severe form of pneumonia

DPH and Fulton County Board of Health investigators have been reviewing hundreds of survey responses from people who stayed or visited the hotel between June 12 and July 15. It could take weeks to parse through the surveys, the DPH said. The survey is available on the agency's home page. 

This is a developing story. Please return to AJC.com for updates.