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Health

Legionella bacteria confirmed at Ocean City hotel

State health officials confirmed Wednesday the presence of Legionella bacteria in the water at Plim Plaza Hotel in Ocean City. Officials have also announced three new cases of Legionnaire's disease among hotel guests, in addition to the three cases announced last week. One elderly out-of-state resident has died.

The bacteria was found in several water samples taken from the hotel, which is closed for the season, according to officials from the Worcester County Health Department and the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, who have been investigating.

Legionnaire's disease, a form of pneumonia, can occur when mist with the bacteria is inhaled, in the shower, for example. The hotel has been notifying guests, who were told to see their doctor for antibiotics if they develop pneumonia-like symptoms that include high fever, cough and shortness of breath, diarrhea and body aches. They usually appear within two to 10 days of exposure.

The bacteria is found naturally in many water systems, but those with weakened immune systems, smokers and seniors are at greater risk of developing disease.

There have been 93 confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease reported this year in Maryland. About 100 -130 cases are typically reported each year.

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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