HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (News release) – Hot Springs National Park has received preliminary results identifying Legionella bacteria at the Quapaw Bath and Spa. Legionella bacteria can cause a serious type of pneumonia known as Legionnaire’s disease.
Extensive environmental water tests were conducted throughout the spa, the bacteria were found in two interior areas and a fountain outside. Based on the preliminary results of these tests, the water-related services in the spa and fountain have been closed immediately to begin disinfection efforts as we wait for additional test results.
Hot Springs National Park is aware of three people with Legionnaires’ disease that became sick during the past year and were visitors to the spa. However, it is unknown if the spa was the source of the bacteria that caused the people to become sick. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is working closely with Hot Springs National Park to ensure that the presence of the bacteria within these areas is fully and immediately addressed.
People can catch the Legionella bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in aerosolized droplets of water that contain the bacteria. Most people exposed to Legionella will not get sick. However, in some people it can cause severe illness. Legionnaires’ disease can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease usually begin 2-14 days after exposure and can include cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headaches, and fever. Additional symptoms may be present, such as headache, confusion, nausea, or diarrhea. People who are at increased risk of getting sick include people 50 years of age or older, smokers, and those with chronic lung disease, weakened immune systems, or underlying illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure.
If you have visited this location and developed any symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease or have experienced these symptoms within the last two weeks, you should seek medical attention. Please let your doctor know so that he/she can test you for Legionnaires’ disease. Ask your doctor to test you with both a urine test and a respiratory culture. If you are diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, please report it to the Arkansas Department of Health as soon as possible. If you have questions, please call the ADH at 501-537-8969.
The ADH is working in close collaboration with the National Park Service Office of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect the health of those who visit the park. You can also learn more about Legionnaires’ disease at https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html.