After discovering the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a hotel at a casino in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula remains closed.
Approximately eight miles north of the Wisconsin-Michigan border, the hotel is located at the Lac Vieux Desert Resort and Casino on US 45 North.
The restaurant and casino tested negative for the bacteria – they have a separate water system – and remain open. In a statement the hotel said sanitation has already begun and, “We engaged in a widespread remediation effort to eradicate any bacteria that may be present. We will not reopen until we are fully confident that this remediation effort is complete,” according to WLUC-TV. The building was evacuated after one guest contracted the illness, and water samples tested from the hotel for the bacteria were positive.
Found naturally in fresh water, Legionella is a type of bacterium that can cause illness, (Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever) when people are exposed to it. The bacterium that causes Legionnaires grows best in hot tubs, large plumbing systems, hot water tanks, and cooling towers (air-conditioning units for large buildings). The disease cannot spread from person-to-person, according to the CDC.
The hotel closure could result in big losses for the resort, as much of their business is from winter tourism. Those losses could have a snowball effect for nearby business in the tourism industry that rely on the seasonal traffic from the hotel. Watersmeet Township Supervisor Mike Rogers said, “There’s a lot of snowmobilers that stay at the resort, up at the LVD Resort, and so I’m sure they’re going to be looking to stay somewhere else.”
Because only the single case (one person) has been reported it is not considered an outbreak, however, the CDC and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did report an increase of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County in the summers of 2014 and 2015.
The casino is owned and operated by the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, it is the tribe’s sole gaming and resort property.