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Luxury Miami Hotel Emptied over Bacteria

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Miami, FLIt's hardly a great start for a new boutique hotel when the spread of a rare bacterium forces all of the guests to relocate. Earlier this fall, one former guest at the Epic Hotel in Miami died and at least two others have become ill from Legionella—a form of pneumonia and the cause of the infamous Legionnaires' disease.

An epidemiologist with the Miami-Dade County Health Department is of the view that the outbreak does not pose a threat to anyone outside the Epic Hotel in the greater Miami community. "It appears that this problem is restricted solely to the Epic Hotel and its residents," said Dr. Vincent Conte, adding that the workers could stay "as long as they don't run the water and create a mist or steam of some kind… the risk of exposure is very small."

Health officials have determined that a water filter removed too much of the chlorine that might have otherwise kept the bacteria at bay. That said, the New York Times reported yesterday that health officials are taking no chances and are looking into other facilities to determine if the same kind of problem could occur elsewhere.

Doctors with Miami-Dade explained in the Times article that the bacteria is not spread from person to person so there is no concern over the possibility of a wider health issue stemming from the incident at the Epic.

An investigation is focusing on an activated carbon mechanism, not unlike Brita filters that one finds in households, to absorb large levels of chlorine flowing in with water piped into the building. The process has been described as a common method of filtering water. The Epic Hotel in Miami used a filter manufactured by Culligan International, which provided no comment for the Times story.

Tthe parent company of the hotel, Kimpton, issued a statement indicating that the hotel has not been confirmed as the source of any illness. However, Dr. Conte of the Miami-Dade County health department observed that the hotel was the lone link amongst the three victims.

The Epic has been open for a year and is located on Biscayne Boulevard Way, in Miami. It bills itself as downtown Miami's premiere luxury hotel, located on the banks of the Miami River where it meets Biscayne Bay.

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