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Third person dies from Legionnaires’ at Loop hotel

Exterior JW Marriott hotel Adams Street Tuesday August 21 2012 Chicago where few patrons were stricken with Legionnaires Disease.

Exterior of JW Marriott hotel on Adams Street on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 in Chicago, where a few patrons were stricken with the Legionnaires Disease. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 31, 2012 5:44PM

A third person has died from the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak linked to a downtown hotel — and the hotel’s main fountain has been identified as the source of the disease.

The fountain in the lobby of the JW Marriott, 151 W. Adams St., was removed from the hotel and identified as the primary source, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Secondary sources were found — including the pool and locker rooms — but they “remain disabled or inaccessible to the public,” the health department said, adding officials believe there is no further risk of illness at the hotel.

The department has confirmed 10 cases of the illness and now three deaths.

Legionella bacteria, which causes the disease, was found in samples taken from the fountain, the men’s and women’s locker rooms, and in the spa swimming pool and whirlpool, according to the health department. All of those locations are currently closed to the public.

The department confirmed three cases of the disease on Aug. 21 and the hotel was identified as the source.

People who stayed there between July 16 and Aug. 15, and are experiencing symptoms consistent with pneumonia, or who have been diagnosed with pneumonia, should contact a doctor to discuss or modify treatment, the department said.

The health department and Marriott have contacted most of the 8,500 guests who stayed at the hotel during that time period.

Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by breathing in mist or vapors from water contaminated with the Legionella bacteria and usually develops two to 14 days after exposure. It frequently begins with headache, high fever and chills, and progresses by the second or third day to include a cough, chest pain and shortness of breath.

About 30 cases of the disease are reported per year in Chicago, the release said.

People who may have been exposed can contact the CDPH hotline at (312) 746-4835 Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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