Three people have died and three more were hospitalized following an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Spain.
In total, more than 20 people were reported to have contracted legionellosis while staying at the Diamante Beach Hotel in Calpe, health officials said. All were older than age 70.
According to regional health authority spokesperson, the deaths occurred on January 26 and 31 and on February 2.
Saga Holidays, which caters to vacationers over 50 and coordinates stays at the hotel, said it was first informed of the legionella outbreak on January 14. The four-star spa and convention center did not publically announce the deaths, however, until last week, when a second test confirmed the presence of the bacterium that causes Legionnaire’s.
Authorities ordered the facility to disinfect the water system, and the hotel has been closed temporarily.
"With the closure we have a guarantee that there will be no more contagion, and we can then evaluate the measures taken with the rigor required by the situation," hotel authorities told the British newspaper The Guardian.
All patrons were removed from the facility, and previous guests who had stayed at the hotel in the past month were advised to seek medical care if they presented symptoms.
The bacterium that causes Legionnaire’s disease, Legionnella, can cause symptoms similar to that of the flu, such as fever and muscle aches, which appear anywhere from two to 10 days following exposure. The bacterium is commonly found in standing water or in mist from showers and air conditioning units, and when inhaled can cause respiratory diseases like pneumonia.
Those with weakened immune systems, including the elderly, are especially vulnerable to Legionnaire’s.
While authorities said the hotel had not broken maintenance rules, a Saga spokesperson said recommendations were made to reduce the possibility of any further outbreak.
The report coincided with the announcements last week of two other outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease in the United States. The Albany County Health Department in New York announced Friday the presence of the Legionella bacterium at a Best Western hotel. Six people with links to the hotel reportedly contracted Legionnaire’s disease between September and December of last year.
Last week, Las Vegas health officials also announced the Legionella bacterium was found in water samples at the Luxor hotel-casino, following the death of a guest in December.
For previous reports on the history of Legionnaire’s and other Legionnaire’s outbreaks, please click here.