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Aria warns guests of possible exposure to Legionnaires’ disease

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

The sweeping forms of Aria are visible from a two-bedroom apartment at Veer Towers at CityCenter.

Updated Thursday, July 14, 2011 | 3:21 p.m.

Six cases of Legionnaires' disease among guests who recently stayed at Aria have prompted the resort to alert other guests that they were possibly exposed to the bacteria.

"In cooperation with the Southern Nevada Health District, Aria Resort is contacting guests who may have stayed with us from June 21 to July 4 at a time when water tests detected elevated levels of Legionella bacteria in several of our guest rooms," Aria officials wrote in a letter to guests.

Southern Nevada Health District spokeswoman Stephanie Bethel said the six cases of the sometimes-deadly form of pneumonia were reported by the Centers for Disease Control. Bethel says all six people were treated and have recovered.

After the health district contacted Aria, resort officials began notifying other guests, and its facilities team added precautionary measures to ward off the bacteria.

Active Legionella bacteria wasn't detected during the most recent tests in various locations at Aria, resort officials said. The resort didn't specify when those tests were conducted.

"We will continue to monitor our water quality on an ongoing basis to ensure the safety of the water system and our guests," Paul Berry, vice president of hotel operations, wrote in the letter to guests.

In the letter, Berry noted that Legionella bacteria is a concern for all large buildings, but Aria has a "comprehensive water management program in place, which includes regular testing."

Southern Nevada’s chief health officer, Lawrence Sands, indicated Legionella bacteria might have been present at Aria more than a year ago.

In an email to health district officials Thursday, Sands wrote that officials investigated in spring 2010 after receiving initial reports about the illness. The investigation, however, did not reveal any increased risk for the bacteria.

More recently, the health district found Legionella bacteria in Aria’s hot water system when more reports surfaced recently that several former Aria guests contracted the illness, Sands wrote.

“Based on the time frame and travel history of the patients, as well as the sampling that was done, it was determined the source of the infection and illness transmission occurred at the property,” he wrote.

This isn’t a Strip property’s first brush with the potentially serious bacterial disease. In 2008, the health district issued a warning after four guests staying at the Polo Towers contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

The infected guests stayed at the Polo Towers in October and November 2007 and August and September 2008. All four recovered.

People exposed to the bacteria can develop symptoms within two to 14 days. Those symptoms include high fever, chills, coughing, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches.

Health officials said people with a chronic illness, respiratory disease or compromised immune system are more susceptible to the disease, in addition to smokers and the elderly. The disease is not communicable, meaning it cannot be spread from one person to another.

Aria created a page on its website that included the letter sent to guests, as well as answers to "frequently asked questions." The resort said guests with additional questions could call 1-877-326-ARIA.

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