Atlanta hotel guest dies after contracting disease that has affected up to 73 other guests

An African American woman at the Sheraton Atlanta for a conference only stayed there a day before contracting the disease, which proved fatal. Officials say 11 others were also diagnosed

The Sheraton Atlanta hotel was shut down voluntarily in July of 2019 after three guests tested positive for Legionnaires' disease. Legionnaire's disease is a type of pneumonia caused by inhaling the water-borne bacteria Legionella. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, and coughing. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

A woman who contracted Legionnaires’ disease while staying at an Atlanta hotel a month ago has died, officials confirmed, making her the first of 12 people who were sickened with the ailment to succumb to it.

Cameo Garrett, 49, died on July 9, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution The victims had stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta when the outbreak happened. Even though only a dozen cases have been verified as linked to the hotel, officials say they are probing 61 other possibles cases, bringing the projected total to as many as 73.

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Garrett only spent a single day at the Sheraton on June 29 while attending a service industry conference. Her father, Al Garrett, reports that shortly thereafter she began to have stomach problems. Even though he offered to make the two hour drive from Augusta to check in on her, his daughter assured him she was being looked after by friends.

However, when she didn’t respond to his text on July 4 he began to worry. When he drove to her house on five days later, he found her dead in her bedroom. The hotel at the center of this outbreak has been closed since mid-July. Andrea Holden, a spokeswoman for the Sheraton Atlanta, said the hotel made the choice the very same day the Georgia Department of Public Health informed them that three of their guests had contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

An autopsy confirmed that Garrett died of coronary artery atherosclerosis aggravated by Legionella pneumonia, Atlanta station WSB-TV reports.

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Health officials say they’re expediting efforts to not only investigate the issue but also prevent any further fatalities. Holden also assured the public that the hotel fully intends to release the results of the testing once it’s completed.

Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory disease that can be contracted simply by inhaling Legionella bacteria. The bacteria which is normally found in soil and multiplies in water, tends to find a home in spaces such as air-conditioning ducts, storage tanks and rivers.