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The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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DHMH Press Releases : three cases of legionellosis



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Baltimore, MD (October 5, 2011) -- The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and the Worcester County Health Department today announced that three individuals who were guests at the Plim Plaza Hotel in Ocean City, Maryland, developed legionellosis approximately a week after staying at the hotel. All three individuals were hospitalized, but none died. It is not confirmed that the guests acquired the illness at the hotel, and the investigation is ongoing. However, in order to assess and manage any water system-related issues, Plim Plaza hotel management has voluntarily relocated guests and closed the hotel for the season a week earlier than planned.

Samples have been taken from water sources in the building and are being cultured for Legionella bacteria at the DHMH state laboratory. Preliminary results suggest the presence of Legionella bacteria in hotel water, however final culture results are not expected until the end of next week, at the earliest.

Legionellosis is a form of pneumonia caused by inhaling aerosolized water, or water mist, containing Legionella bacteria. The bacteria are present in many different man-made and natural water systems. Approximately two to 14 days following exposure to the bacteria, a small number of persons exposed to the bacteria may develop legionellosis, which can be treated with commonly available antibiotics. Persons at higher risk for legionellosis include smokers, the elderly, persons with chronic lung disease, and those with weakened immune systems because of disease or medications. Legionellosis is not spread from person to person.

Symptoms of legionellosis include high fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, or severe body aches. Individuals who visited the Plim Plaza Hotel after September 1, 2011, and who currently have or develop these symptoms should contact their health care provider to determine whether testing or treatment is indicated.

On average, Maryland has approximately 100 to 130 legionellosis cases reported each year. To date this year, there have been 82 confirmed legionellosis cases reported in Maryland. More information about the disease is available at

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