A foreign national had developed the condition after visiting the hotel and complained

Public health officials on Wednesday collected swabs from a star hotel after complaints that a U.S. national had picked up an infection.

The foreign national had contracted pneumonia after visiting the hotel and reported the condition to public health authorities. A raid was organised after the State government received reports that pneumonia was due to Legionella infection.

A total of 11 swabs were collected and have been sent to King Institute of Preventive Medicine, Guindy. Results will be available in three days, official sources said. Over nine star hotels in the luxury segment are located in Chennai district. A large number of hotels are in the premium, mid-market and value segment in the city.

“We are not suspecting any grave disease,” an official of Health Department said. But if the results are found to prove the presence of a Legionella infection, public health authorities will impose a fine of Rs.100 on the hotel under the provisions of Section 101 of the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act.

The registration certificate of the lodging house at the luxury hotel will also be cancelled.

Based on the results, a notice will also be issued under section 279 of Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act. The Revenue Department of Chennai Corporation in association with the Public Health authorities will also cancel the trade licence of the restaurant of the luxury hotel.

The visitor had suffered Legionella transmission that is usually spread through airborne respiratory droplets containing the bacteria. The common sources include air-conditioners, swimming pools, hot-water systems and fountains.

A health and hygiene consultant with the hotel industry, who did not want to be named, said that Legionella was a pneumonia causing organism. “It is an indication that the chilling water plant has not had proper chemical treatment. It is mandatory that hotels test it once in six months but good hotels test it more frequently. It is hard for a guest to get infection by staying for just 24 hours unless the person has a weak immune system,” he said.

The swabs are usually taken from the chiller water plant, air handling unit, grills encasing air conditioning ducts at guest rooms, office cabins and at the salad preparation room.

Hotel authorities, when contacted, refused to respond until the arrival of the report of King Institute of Preventive Medicine.

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