DEVELOPING: Legionnaires Outbreak Strikes Guests at Elvis’ Graceland Estate

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MEMPHIS, TN – The Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) received laboratory confirmation of nine individuals diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease. With the reported cases, health officials began an investigation and have temporarily closed the aquatics facilities of The Guest House at Graceland, 3600 Elvis Presley Blvd., 38116.

“We are working collaboratively with the Tennessee Department of Health on this current investigation,” said Alisa Haushalter, DNP, RN, director of SCHD. “As the local public health department, it is our role to protect our community, including those who are visitors, and prevent the spread of disease.”

SCHD officials are working with the establishment to identify sources of transmission, remediate to prevent future transmission and educate staff and patrons on the disease, including signs and symptoms.

“We are working closely and cooperating fully with SCHD,” stated The Guest House at Graceland, managed by Pyramid Hotel Group. “We care deeply about the health and safety of all our guests and employees. Our hotel remains open and fully operational. By closing our hot tub and pool facilities temporarily, we are taking all proper precautions as SCHD completes its investigation.”

Legionnaires Disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella found naturally in the environment, usually in water. It is contracted when individuals breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) containing the bacteria.

Many exposed to Legionnaires do not become ill, but symptoms can be similar to forms of pneumonia including cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches and headaches which can last between two and 14 days after exposure. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat the symptoms.

The key to preventing Legionnaires Disease is maintenance of the water systems in which Legionella bacteria grow, including drinking water systems, hot tubs, decorative fountains and cooling towers. Persons at increased risk of infection, including the elderly, those who smoke, and individuals with suppressed or compromised immune systems, may choose to avoid high-risk exposures, such as being in or near a hot tub.