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DOH probes Legionnaires’ disease cluster tied to Waikīkī hotel, alerts recent guests

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The Grand Islander, Waikīkī. PC: Hilton Grand Vacations website

The state Department of Health asked individuals who stayed at a specific Hilton hotel in Waikīkī within the last couple weeks to be on alert for a type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease, according to a press release today.  

DOH also asked public health agencies across the US Mainland to report cases of Legionnaires disease with a travel history to Hawai’i. 

The department is investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease in guests who stayed at The Grand Islander by Hilton Grand Vacations in Waikīkī. The second case was diagnosed March 6 or 7, and the first case was diagnosed in June 2021. 

A Hilton Grand Vacations spokesperson provided the following statement:

“The Hawaiʻi Department of Health informed Hilton Grand Vacations that an individual who recently visited Honolulu was diagnosed with Legionella upon returning home. This individual stayed at The Grand Islander, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club. Our team is following all guidance from the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a thorough investigation is conducted. The health and safety of our owners, guests and team members is our top priority. While the investigation is ongoing and it is not yet known how or where this individual was infected, out of an abundance of caution, we are taking several steps to ensure everyone’s safety, including temperature treating of systems, which was completed March 23. This non-chemical process is not harmful and only involves increasing water temperatures to systems at The Grand Islander.”

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“While the risk to the general public is low, cases of Legionnaires’ disease are on the rise nationwide,” state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said in the release.  

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People who stayed at the Hilton Grand Islander in the last two weeks who develop symptoms or individuals who were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after a stay at the Grand Islander are encouraged to seek medical attention and contact DOH, according to Dr. Kemble. 

The source of illness and extent of spread are still under investigation, and the department is working closely with the hotel to protect public health. 

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by exposure to Legionella bacteria. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headache. 

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The illness cannot be spread from person to person.  

Instead, Legionella bacteria are found in freshwater environments and can spread in water systems such as showerheads and sink faucets, cooling towers, hot tubs and large plumbing systems. 

Symptoms usually begin within two to 14 days of exposure, and the disease is treated with antibiotics.  

Most healthy people exposed to Legionella bacteria do not develop Legionnaires’ disease, the department said. However, people with an increased risk include those 50 and older, current or former smokers and people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems.  

Call (808) 586-4586 to reach DOH’s Disease Outbreak and Control Division Disease Reporting Line or click here to report an illness by email

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