Wake Forest, N.C. — A woman suffering from Legionnaire’s disease says a WRAL News story helped lead to her diagnosis.
It comes after Wake County health officials identified three cases of Legionnaires’ disease linked to a spa at a Wake Forest hotel.
Mary Massenburg said when she first arrived at WakeMed, doctors didn’t know why she was so sick.
In May, Massenburg attended a pool party at the Clarion Hotel in Wake Forest.
“All she wanted was a birthday party at a swimming pool,” Massenburg said about her granddaughter’s tenth birthday.
The family checked in on Sunday, May 29, and checked out on Monday, May 30. Massenburg said everything was fine until Monday night.
“Monday night, I started coughing … early Tuesday morning, I started getting a fever,” described Massenburg.
Massenburg thought she’d been through the sickness before — thinking that it was coronavirus.
“My husband died in January of COVID,” she said. “Any sign of COVID, we are terrified.”
But, her multiple COVID-19 tests came back negative. Yet, at the same time, Massenburg’s oxygen levels were reaching critical stages.
Doctors wanted to perform a tracheotomy on Massenburg, but on the same evening of those discussions her daughter and granddaughter caught WRAL’s late newscasts. They learned that the Wake County Public Health Department found three cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the hotel where they stayed.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella that are found usually in water. The illness doesn’t spread from person to person, but instead bacteria spreads through mist — stemming from shower heads, hot tubs and air conditioning units. People can become infected when they breathe in small droplets of water that contain the bacteria, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Symptoms include cough, fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches. Most healthy people who are exposed to the bacteria do not get sick. Being 50 years or older or having certain risk factors can increase your chances of getting sick.
Experts later determined the source of the bacteria inside the Wake Forest Clarion came from the hotel’s spa.
Armed with that information, Massenburg’s doctors started treating her for the disease.
Days later she started to feel much better, and now, she’s back to work.
“Although I didn’t see it, that report saved my life,” said Massenburg.
Massenburg’s son was also sick. He received treatment for Legionnaires’ disease and has since recovered.
A spokesperson for the county health department said the spa was closed and drained, which included cleaning the spa’s water system.
WRAL News contacted Clarion Hotel but did not hear back.