Three confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease and one suspected case have been detected in guests who stayed at a Super 8 in Lacey, Thurston County. Health officials continue to investigate the outbreak.
With a possible fourth case of Legionnaires’ disease linked to a Lacey motel, health officials in Thurston County are warning recent guests and staff to watch for signs of the potentially deadly lung infection.
Meanwhile, officials have signed onto a federal alert system, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Epi-X program, to notify health officials nationwide to report any similar cases.
In the past few weeks, there have been three confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease and one suspected case among guests at the Super 8 motel at 112 College St. S.E., health officials said.
The motel operators agreed voluntarily to close last week on the advice of Dr. Rachel Wood, the Thurston County health officer. Experts are investigating whether the motel is the source of the infections, which were reported separately over the past two months.
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The Lacey motel was renovated in 2013, according to its website. The Super 8 is an independent franchise of the Wyndham Hotel Group.
Thurston County officials have reached out to perhaps dozens of people who stayed at the motel in the six weeks before the motel closed and to staff.
“We have contacted known guests to alert them to the investigation and ask them to monitor their health for 10 days after their last potential exposure,” said Nicky Upson, a spokeswoman for Thurston County Health & Social Services. “If they become ill, they have been asked to contact their health-care provider.”
Health officials also posted information to the CDC’s Epi-X system, which provides real-time alerts to colleagues across the nation. No one had responded as of Tuesday, Upson said.
Local health officials are in contact with experts at the state and the CDC, she added.
Investigators have gathered environmental samples from the motel to see whether there’s evidence of Legionella bacteria, which cause the disease, a potentially serious type of pneumonia.
The bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in warm water. Infection typically occurs when people breathe in the mist or vapor of water contaminated with the germs. The disease is not spread from person to person.
Hotel air-conditioning units, whirlpools, hot tubs and ice machines have been linked to the spread of the disease, which sends an estimated 8,000 to 18,000 people a year to hospitals, according to the CDC.
Legionnaires’ disease was first identified after an outbreak in 1976 sickened many attendees at an American Legion meeting in Philadelphia.