Las Vegas Legionnaires’ Disease Cases Detailed, Hotels Responded Quickly

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The Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) has initiated investigations into multiple cases of Legionnaires’ disease linked to two prominent Las Vegas casino and hotel resorts.

Caesars Palace and The Orleans Hotel & Casino, both on the famous Las Vegas Strip, registered potential contamination for the possibly deadly pneumonia-causing bacterium over the past year.

Both hotels have since tested clean after swift action from operators. However, guests who attended Caesars Palace over the month of August should monitor for any symptoms and seek immediate medical care if they do arise, the SHND said.

Legionnaires’ symptoms are similar to a flu, including fevers, muscle aches, and breathing problems, and usually develop within 10 days of aerosol contact with the bacterium.

The disease is not contagious between people. It spreads via inhalation of the bacterium in water droplets, usually from improperly maintained air conditioning or water systems.

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Effective Remedial Measures

Two individuals who tested positive for the disease had stayed at Caesars Palace Hotel within the past year.

Environmental samples from Caesars Palace confirmed the presence of Legionella bacteria, the causative agent of Legionnaires’ disease. The hotel then took swift action to remedy the situation.  Subsequent tests did not detect the bacteria, indicating that remedial measures have been effective.

However, given the recent nature of the first sample, health officials have told previous guests to remain cautious for now.

The Orleans Hotel & Casino, on the other hand, had earlier reported two confirmed cases of the disease from guests who stayed there in January 2023.

Following these reports, the hotel undertook remediation of its water system, which included measures like flushing the system and enhancing chlorine levels. Post-remediation tests did not detect the Legionella bacteria.

Both hotels have been cooperative with the SNHD’s investigations. The latest environmental tests have not detected the potentially deadly bacteria. The hotels are also in the process of notifying guests about potential exposure and offering guidance on minimizing risks.

Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia-causing illness spread by the inhalation of water droplets contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Symptoms typically manifest within two to ten days post-exposure and can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. The disease can be particularly severe in individuals over 50, smokers, those with chronic lung diseases, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

Guests who stayed at Caesars Palace or The Orleans more than two weeks ago and haven’t shown any symptoms are not considered at risk. However, those who develop symptoms within 14 days of their stay are advised to seek medical attention and inform their health care provider about potential exposure.

Bad PR Month

The SNHD has provided a platform to report their illness for guests who stayed at either of the hotels since August 1, 2023, and experienced symptoms within 14 days of their stay. The Health District has also set up a help line to address concerns and provide more information on the disease.

This news comes at a relatively bad time for big Las Vegas casino resort hotels on the hygiene front. Earlier this month, a new SHND report detailed seven Las Vegas Strip hotels’ battles with bed bugs over the past two years.

Then, this week, a Las Vegas Review-Journal journalist brought to light a 2022 case in which a live bat was found by guests in a room at MGM Resorts’ New York-New York Hotel & Casino.

The family involved is suing the operator for $15,000 in damages, alleging staff improperly dealt with the incident.

Casino staff may or may not be trained on how to handle a bat, but it is almost certain the presence of Legionnaires bacteria will have provoked a swift and strong reaction from the operator’s involved.

A $15,000 lawsuit is nothing compared to the reputational and financial damage that might occur if someone died or became seriously ill from exposure at the venue.

“Caesars Palace maintains a robust safety program to minimize the potential for the Legionella bacteria to survive in the water systems at its property that meet or exceed industry standards,” operator Caesars Entertainment said.

“In addition, we immediately took further steps to remediate the presence of any trace amounts of Legionella bacteria relating to the two instances being investigated by the Southern Nevada Health District. We are confident in the integrity of our systems and the safety protocols we rigorously follow.”

Boyd Gaming, owner of The Orleans, also issued a similar statement, as well its official advice.

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