Amid Napa Legionnaires' outbreak, investigators find bacteria in hotel

Health officials in a preliminary investigation say they've traced a potential source of the Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Napa County to an Embassy Suites hotel. 

Napa County Public Health on Wednesday said they've been working with California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test for potential sources. They've found "high levels of Legionella bacteria in a sample taken from a cooling tower at Embassy Suites Napa Valley." The hotel is located on California Boulevard in the City of Napa. 

Since July, the outbreak has sickened and hospitalized as many as 12 people. One person has died as a result of the disease. Three people remain hospitalized, officials said.

Health officials said the person who died from the disease was over 50 years old and had risk factors for severe disease. Interestingly enough, none of the 12 residents diagnosed with the disease stayed at or visited the Embassy Suites hotel, investigators said.

Since the discovery of the source, the cooling tower has been taken offline, officials said. The county health department is working to identify additional sources of the bacteria in unsafe amounts. 

"Finding Legionella in one water sample is an important piece of the puzzle, but we must continue to investigate other cooling towers and water sources in the outbreak area, as it is common to find more than one source," Dr. Karen Relucio, Napa County health officer said.

MORE: One man dies in Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Napa County

Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from person to person and can be treated with antibiotics when caught early, officials said. Residents and people who work in the City of Napa who are experiencing flu-like symptoms, cough, fever or difficulty breathing, should contact their healthcare provider immediately, officials said. 

County health officials shared some strategies to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria in your home.

  • Flush your faucets and showerheads if they haven’t been used recently.
  • Clean, disinfect, and maintain all devices that use water (e.g. humidifiers, respiratory therapy devices, showerhead and faucet aerators, water heaters, and hot tubs)