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Bacteria Causing Legionnaires' Disease Identified in Cooling Tower at Napa Hotel

A cooling tower at the Embassy Suites Napa Valley has been identified to hold an unsafe amount of Legionella bacteria, which has infected a dozen residents and killed one over the last month, Napa County health officials said Wednesday.

The tower at the hotel, located on California Boulevard in Napa, was determined to hold high levels of the bacteria an investigation by county health officials, the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

County officials said the cooling tower has been taken offline, preventing further risk to the general public.

The bacteria cause a type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease and typically grows in warm water. Contaminated water can then be aerosolized via air conditioning units, hot tubs, cooling misters and decorative fountains.

“Our joint investigation team continues to work with Embassy Suites staff to remediate the source of exposure,” Napa County Health Officer Dr. Karen Relucio said in a statement. “Finding Legionella in one water sample is an important piece of the puzzle, but we must continue to investigate other cooling towers and water sources in the outbreak area, as it is common to find more than one source.”

Since July 11, 2022, at least 12 county residents have contracted Legionnaires’ disease and subsequently hospitalized. In addition to the one death, three residents remain hospitalized with the disease.

None of the residents who have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, to date, have been confirmed to have visited the hotel.

Those who are over age 50, smoke cigarettes, have weakened immune systems or a chronic health condition in the lungs are most at risk to contract the disease, according to the county.

The disease is not spread from person to person, county health officials said, and can be quelled with antibiotics if caught early enough.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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