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Sunday
Jul172011

Deadly Legionnaires' Disease Sickens Guests on Las Vegas Strip

JupiterImages/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- Nevada health authorities are investigating an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that has been reported at the posh 4,000-room Aria Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Four guests who stayed at the resort were treated for the bacteria-borne disease, but many more may have been exposed from June 21 to July 4.

In the past, air-conditioning systems, showers and hot tubs had been the suspected culprits in larger Legionnaires' outbreaks, but Nevada authorities have not yet determined the cause in this case.

"Legionella is a bacteria that lives in water and loves warm, wet environments," said Dr. Mary Nettleman, professor and head of the department of medicine at Michigan State University. "Unfortunately, people also like warm, wet environments, like hot tubs."

Last February, 200 partygoers at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills, Calif., came down with flulike chills and high fevers. Four attending the DomainFest Global Conference there went on to develop a mild form of the disease, Pontiac fever.

Health authorities later suspected the mansion's whirlpool had been to blame for the spread of the bacteria.

Legionella transmission can occur through aerosols generated by air injected in the whirlpool, according to Dr. Amir Afkhami, assistant professor in the global health division at George Washington University School of Public Health.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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