Downtown Miami’s Epic Hotel is now free of Legionella, after the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ Disease caused a deadly outbreak in 2009.
One British tourist died and another nine became sick inside the Biscayne Blvd. luxury spot, all likely caused by a faulty water system.
“23 of the 25 cultures that were taken by the contractor did test positive for Legionella pneumophila," said Vincent Conte, MD from the Miami-Dade County Health Department. "So we did find Legionella in the water system of the hotel.”
Legionnaires’ Disease is a respiratory infection that causes coughing, fever, weakness and can be fatal. An investigation by the Miami-Dade County Health Department found more cases than originally thought when the hotel voluntarily closed from December 11th through the 26th.
"We found seven confirmed cases and three probable cases that all had a stay at the hotel in common," said Dr. Conte.
But is this where the 10 tourists got sick? The health department can’t be 100% certain.
“We were never able to get cultures from the patients so we were never able to perform that test," said Dr. Conte.
They were able to confirm the source of the problem at the Epic: a carbon filtration system that removed all the chlorine from the water which allowed the Legionella bacteria to grow. They also alerted five other unnamed buildings in Miami with the same filtration system. The health department says the Epic disconnected that system and has gotten a clean bill of health.
“The hotel management and ownership, they were very proactive in working with us to remediate," said Samir Elmir, from the health department. "They took a series of steps, they followed best practices to basically clean and sanitize the system.”