ATLANTA (CBS46) -- The Sheraton Atlanta confirmed 3 cases of Legionnaires disease at the property in the last 30 days.

Just what is the disease, how does it spread and how serious is it?

Legionnaires' disease is caused by a bacteria that easily grows and multiplies in water systems, like hot tubs or air conditioners.  It can be spread from a shower or through the ventilation system of a large building.

According to the CDC, the most common places for getting the disease are hotels, long-term care facilities and hospitals. Cruise ships are also places where outbreaks of Legionnaries' disease happen.

Outbreaks can be prevented with cleaning and disinfection of those systems.

It is not spread from person-to-person contact.

The symptoms generally take between two and 10 days to appear. They include:

  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • gastrointestinal symptoms
  • confusion

Anyone who thinks they have been exposed should see a doctor.

Not everyone who is exposed will get sick. Those with a weakened immune system, with a chronic lung disease or anyone who is over 50  is at a greater risk.

Legionnaires' disease is treated with antibiotics and the sooner those are started, the lower the chance of complications.  It is deadly for about 10% of people who get it.

The number of people with Legionnaires' grew by nearly 4 times between 2000 and 2014. 

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