July 28, 2011: Two College Students Contract Pontiac Fever After Staying at a Vegas Hotel
Two college students, Joseph Dougherty and Erika Keller, came down with Pontiac Fever after staying at the Aria in Las Vegas, NV.
The patrons of the hotel could have been exposed to the bacteria legionella, which can cause a more serious disease than Pontiac Fever, Legionnaire’s Disease.
The two students have recovered from the illness but more testing has to be done to prove their illnesses were caused from the bacterium. At this point in the investigation no more hotel guests have reported contracting the disease.
The couple stayed at the hotel from July 5-6 and two days after returning they both fell ill. According to Dougherty, he does not remember a time he was ever so sick. The couple both thought they had the flu and waited it out. After Dougherty’s father saw recent reports of a legionella outbreak at Aria, Dougherty and Keller got tested for Legionnaire’s Disease.
After being examined by a doctor it was concluded that both Dougherty and Keller had Pontiac Fever. Pontiac fever is caused by the same type of bacteria, legionella, as Legionnaire's Disease. The symptoms of Pontiac fever usually last two to five days and symptoms go away on their own without treatment and without causing further problems.
On July 14, Southern Nevada Health District officials said former Aria guests who stayed at the hotel from June 21 to July 4 could have been exposed to the legionella bacteria, which has infected six former hotel guests.
According to an Aria spokesperson, the hotel would pay for testing and compensate those that had contracted the disease.
CDC officials informed the health district last year that two cases of Legionnaire's Disease had been possibly linked to the Aria. But it wasn't until last month that local officials tested the water at the resort and discovered the bacteria that causes Legionellosis. The tests were done only after health officials determined that six former patrons of the hotel had been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.
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