Cortina Inn Closed Again After Water Tests Positive for Legionella Bacteria

For Immediate Release: June 19, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON — The Cortina Inn in Killington was closed for the second time on Wednesday, June 18 at the direction of the Vermont Department of Health.

The Inn closed voluntarily when requested to do so by the Health Department after laboratory testing showed that one of six water samples taken as part of required followup testing was "presumptively positive" for the presence of Legionella pneumophilia bacteria. Those results were confirmed today.

The Inn was first closed on April 3 of this year, following confirmation of Legionella in its water system, with three cases of Legionnaires' disease linked to the Inn. There have been no new cases of Legionnaires' disease.

"The Cortina Inn has been working to implement the actions required by the Health Department to assure the safety of their guests and employees," said the Health Department's Medical Director Donald R. Swartz, MD. "Unfortunately, this bacteria tends to be very difficult to eliminate from a hard-water system that has mineral buildup. The Inn must now redouble their efforts to rid their plumbing of this bacteria and test clean before they can re-open."

Employees and current guests were advised of the situation on June 18.

People can develop Legionnaires' disease after they breathe in aerosolized water containing the Legionella bacteria sprayed through faucets, showers, whirlpool spas, pools, cooling towers, etc. Most people who are exposed to the bacteria will not develop illness.

Legionnaires' disease is not spread from person to person and you cannot get it by drinking coffee, driving by, or simply walking through a building. For people who are directly exposed, those most likely to develop serious illness are the elderly, smokers, people with chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems.

Legionnaires' disease got its name in 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia, caused by this newly recognized organism, occurred among people attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. The disease has two distinct forms: Legionnaires' disease, the more severe form of infection, which includes pneumonia — and Pontiac fever, a milder illness.

An estimated 8,000 to 18,000 people get Legionnaires' disease in the United States each year. Symptoms usually include fever, chills and a cough. Some patients also have muscle aches, headache, tiredness, loss of appetitite and, occasionally, diarrhea. Chest X-rays often show pneumonia but specific tests are needed to diagnose Legionella pneumonia.

As always, the Health Department enourages anyone who has medical concerns to call their health care provider.

For more information on Legionnaires’ Disease, visit the Health Department web site at


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