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3rd Death Linked To Legionnaires' Outbreak At Chicago Hotel

CHICAGO (CBS) – City health officials say a third person has died from an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at a Chicago hotel, and they think they know the primary source of the bacteria.

A decorative fountain in the JW Marriott's main lobby was the probable source, the Chicago Department of Public Health said Friday. The cases of Legionnaires' were traced to guests who stayed at the hotel between July 16 and Aug. 15.

In all, the department has confirmed 10 cases -- up from eight -- including the three deaths. Previously, health officials had announced two guests from out of state had died.

The fountain was removed from the hotel, 151 W. Adams, Thursday night. The hotel also has closed off access to the men's and women's locker rooms, the swimming pool and the whirlpool spa, all of which tested positive and are viewed as secondary sources.

Symptoms of Legionnaires disease initially mimic those of the flu, and include headache, high fever, chills, cough, chest pain and shortness of breath. It is a severe form of pneumonia, and a person can be infected simply by breathing in droplets or vapors.  It can take up to 14 days to develop after exposure.

"We believe there is no ongoing public health risk at the hotel at this time," Dr. Kathy Ritger, the health department's medical director over communicable disease, said.

City health department personnel will continue to operate a hotline for those who have questions or concerns. The hotline number is (312) 746-4835.

Health officials say the hotel has been cooperative throughout the investigation.

"It impacts all of us and certainly our hearts go out to those individuals and their family and their friends," hotel general manager Catherine Mrowiec tells CBS 2's Pamela Jones.


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