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Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported

July 21, 2018

LAUGHLIN — The Southern Nevada Health District is investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported in guests who stayed separately at Harrah’s Laughlin Hotel & Casino in Laughlin.

The cases were reported separately, according to a news release from the health district. One reportedly occurred in November of last year; the other in March of this year.

The hotel is assisting in the investigation, and the health district is working with the property to notify current and past guests dating back to Oct. 15, 2017. Guests who stayed at Harrah’s Laughlin Hotel & Casino during this timeframe and experienced symptoms up to 14 days after their stay can report their illness to the health district using a survey posted on its website at www.snhd.info/survey2018.

Following notification from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding a second confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease in an individual who stayed at the hotel, the Southern Nevada Health District notified Harrah’s Laughlin about the case in mid-June. The CDC considers a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak is occurring when there are two or more cases associated with the same facility in a 12-month period.

The health district conducted an environmental health assessment of the facility’s water system after receiving the initial illness report. Following notification of the second case, the property arranged for environmental testing of its water system. Facility testing results did indicate the presence of Legionella bacteria. The hotel has begun disinfection of the affected water system and will continue to implement remediation procedures, including chlorine disinfection. The hotel also has implemented proactive water management efforts.

The health district will conduct additional water sampling of the hotel’s water system to determine if Legionella are still present in the system. The health district will continue to work with the facility and conduct follow-up sampling to ensure its remediation efforts are effective.

Officials with Ceasers Entertainment, the parent company of Harrah’s Laughlin, provided a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Recently, the Southern Nevada Health District determined that two people who are believed to have separately stayed at Harrah’s Laughlin Hotel and Casino in November 2017 and March 2018 were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease (a form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria).,” the statement confirmed. “Harrah’s Laughlin has been working closely with the SNHD to investigate this matter and take aggressive remediation action to ensure the safety of the water. This includes the implementation of an updated water management plan and disinfection efforts of the water systems. We will continue to monitor our water quality in accordance with the SNHD’s guidance to ensure the safety of the water system and our guests.”

Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by inhaling aerosol droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria. Sources of the aerosol can include showers, hot tubs, faucets, cooling towers, misters, and decorative fountains. Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. Generally, Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person-to-person; however, this might be possible under rare circumstances. Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick. There are factors that can put people at an increased risk of getting sick: being age 50 years or older; being a current or former smoker; having a chronic lung disease (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema); having a weakened immune system or taking drugs that weaken the immune system (like after a transplant operation or chemotherapy); having cancer; or having an underlying illness.

Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are very similar to other types of pneumonia and can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Legionnaires’ disease is treated with antibiotics. The illness can be severe and sometimes result in death.

Symptoms usually begin within two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria. However, people should watch for symptoms for about two weeks after exposure. Guests who stayed at Harrah’s Laughlin more than two weeks ago and have not developed symptoms are not at risk for disease. If guests of the property develop symptoms within 14 days of their stay, they should seek medical attention.

Anyone with additional questions can contact the health district’s helpline at 702-759-4636, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More information on Legionnaire’s disease is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html.

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