Nine visitors who stayed at a Memphis hotel between May 15 and June 26 have contracted Legionnaires’ disease, as of July, 2017. The Graceland Guest House is a hotel located right next to Elvis Presley’s home. It opened in March 2017, just a few months before the musician’s 40th death anniversary.

Alisa Haushalter is the director at the Shelby County Health Department. According to Haushalter, Legionella bacteria were found in both the hotel’s swimming pool and hot tub. Both facilities were closed until the facilities were deemed clear of the bacteria on July 19. A maintenance plan has been devised to prevent the incident from occurring again. The facilities will also be monitored for another six months.

At least one of the hotel guests who contracted the disease, Mr. Douglas Johnson, has sued the hotel. He and his wife checked into the hotel for one night in June. Mr. Johnson was later hospitalised and was in critical condition at one point.

The law firm representing the hotel guest is holding the hotel’s management responsible for not keeping the water up to standards. According to Mr. Johnson’s lawyer, the hotel failed to follow the necessary protocols and procedures needed to keep the water clean and safe to use. It is this failure which caused the nine hotel guests to get sick.

Legionnaires’ disease is a life-threatening form of pneumonia. Symptoms may include coughing, muscle aches, fever, difficulty breathing, vomiting and diarrhoea. Because the symptoms are similar to having the flu, people can sometimes be misdiagnosed. The symptoms normally appear within two days to two weeks of being exposed to the bacteria. Although considered fatal, it can be treated with a course of antibiotics if diagnosed early.

The disease itself is not contagious. It cannot be passed from one person to another. People contract the disease by breathing in aerosols that have been contaminated with the bacteria.

There are more than 50 types of legionella bacteria, however some are more pathogenic than others and therefore responsible for more fatalities. The bacteria can be found in bodies of water such as rivers and reservoirs and enters our mains water in small numbers. It is only when the water temperature rises to above 20°C that the bacteria starts to proliferate and cause a problem.

There is currently no law which requires building owners to conduct testing for the bacteria. However, owners are required to make sure that the water is safe and clean, whether it is for swimming, washing or drinking. Testing for Legionella is an excellent way of ensuring control measures are effective.

AquaCert provides kits that can be used for water testing. Simply fill up the bottles with water from your hot taps or showers then let AquaCert know they are ready to be collected by Courier. All samples are delivered to a UKAS accredited Laboratory for analysis and when the results are available, they will either be posted to you or emailed, depending on your preference.