Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson

There are some experiences each of us share in common occasionally. We take short trips and seek overnight accommodations. These overnight stops are usually pleasant experiences.

We stop traveling in the late afternoon, check into a hotel or motel, clean up, and go out for a bite to eat. After that, perhaps a television show, a shower and off to bed. We rise early the next day, eat the breakfast buffet and check out, continuing our journey.

Now we learn that where we stop could be harmful to our health. We have to worry about a bacteria causing Legionnaire’s disease.

A 49-year-old lady named Cameo Garrett recently stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. She contracted the disease, which was aggravated by pneumonia. She became ill and was later found dead at her home. The Georgia Department of Public Health has reported 12 confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease at the Sheraton location with 63 more suspected cases. Lawsuits may follow.

The 700 rooms of the hotel were closed in the interest of public safety. Studies are underway to determine the source of the disease.

Where cases of this disease are suspected, hotel-seekers with immune system problems, lung problems, or who are smokers need to exercise greater care in their choice of accommodations. Breathing contaminated air can be deadly for these people.

When such cases occur, hotel operators take every precaution to locate and treat the source of the disease. Pinpointing the source of Legionnaire’s disease is often not easy. After a hotel stay, if a guest experiences shortness of breath, coughs, fever, chills and muscle pains, then prompt medical attention is necessary to confirm the presence of this disease. Air conditioners are often the source of Legionnaire’s disease. And, when untreated, this disease is often fatal.

The disease got the name in 1976 in Philadelphia, where American Legion delegates to a convention reported a large number of respiratory problems at local hotels.

Do not mess with Legionnaire’s disease. Take prompt action!

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each week in the weekend edition of this newspaper.

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