A Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak at an Alabama vacation condo rental resort has prompted the resort to replace its hot tubs.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) investigated a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak that sickened 14 people who stayed at the Turquoise Beach condos in Orange Beach between October 21, 2022, and December 22, 2022, and traced it to the resort’s balcony spas.
“We have found many of the balcony hot tubs were impacted by Legionella bacteria,” said Dr. David Krause, a certified industrial hygienist who was hired to investigate the source of the outbreak in December.
In late April, investigators found that 20 percent of the resort’s balcony hot tubs contained Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’.
Krause suspects the presence of the bacteria could be linked to outages that occurred during Hurricane Sally in September, 2020.“Once you get Legionella started in a water system, it’s really persistent. It’s tough to get rid of,” said Krause. Based on current testing, Krause believes the bacteria has been eradicated from the complex. According to the ADPH, there were five lab-confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ Disease, one doctor diagnosed case of Pontiac Fever, and eight people who developed symptoms that are consistent with Legionnaires’ within 14 days of staying at the resort.
Spectrum Resorts, the condo’s management company, says it is currently in the process of replacing about 400 hot tubs and will test the new hot tubs more frequently.
F o l lowing the outb r e a k , Jonathan Gray, a Spectrum Resorts spokesperson, said they immediately began testing all water sources such as showerheads, faucets, fountains, and hot tubs. Finding the bacteria in the hot tubs, the management company will now spend more than $4 million to replace the spas and has resolved to test the water for adequate sanitation frequently.
“It’s a much more aggressive maintenance program,” Gray said. “Whereas in the past it was maybe a couple of times a week, now it’s going to be every day. I think that with the new hot tubs and with the cleaning paradigm that they’ve put in place, I venture to say these hot tubs are the safest on the Gulf Coast.”
Photo Credit: Turquoise Beach Resort