Bacteria Causing Legionnaires' Disease Sickens People Staying at Eastern Washington Hotel 


Health officials are warning that people who stayed at a Walla Walla, Wash., hotel in the last two weeks may have been exposed to bacteria that can cause Legionnaires' disease.

The Walla Walla County Department of Community Health investigated after being notified by the Washington state Department of Health that three guests had become ill following a stay at the La Quinta Inn & Suites in Walla Walla.

Water samples collected July 11 tested positive for Legionella.

Legionella is a common bacteria that can spread in building water systems like hot water tanks, hot tubs and large plumbing systems.

While most healthy individuals exposed to Legionella do not get sick, those with certain risk factors can develop a potentially serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaires' disease.

Risk factors include being older than 50 years of age, being a current or former smoker, having chronic lung disease, having a weakened immune system, or taking drugs that weaken the immune system.

Legionnaires' disease symptoms are similar to other types of pneumonia and can include fever, chills, muscle aches and coughing.

People who stayed at the La Quinta Inn in Walla Walla during the first two weeks of July and are having symptoms should seek medical attention, said Dr. Daniel Kaminsky, the Walla Walla County public health officer.