By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently confirmed two community based cases of Legionnaires’ disease in addition to the previously reported cases at Covenant Living at the Holmstad. IDPH is currently investigating this outbreak with the Kane County Health Department (KCHD), in consultation with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of September 13, 2019, IDPH is aware of 14 confirmed cases associated with this outbreak. Twelve cases have been identified among Covenant Living residents, and late Thursday, September 12, 2019, IDPH received reports of two community based cases in Batavia.

This image shows Legionella colonies growing on a Petri dish.
Image/Otto Schwake

With the identification of two community cases, IDPH has taken additional samples of potential sources at the Covenant campus and within a one-mile radius in the area. While the definitive cause has not been identified, IDPH has recommended remediation steps of suspected sources. Individuals with new respiratory symptoms should seek immediate medical care, and clinicians in the area should test patients with suspected pneumonia for Legionnaire’s disease.

Legionnaires’ disease confirmed in Batavia, Illinois Retirement Community

“As the epidemiological and environmental investigation of this Legionnaires’ disease cluster continues, it is important to release this information to ensure that so nearby residents are aware and seek treatment if they become symptomatic,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Legionnaires’ disease usually begins with a high fever (102 degrees F to 105 degrees F), chills, muscle aches, cough and shortness of breath, and symptoms usually develop up to two weeks after exposure.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious lung infection (pneumonia) that people can get by breathing in small droplets of water containing Legionella bacteria. It is not transmitted person-to-person. Outbreaks are most commonly associated with buildings or structures that have complex water systems, like hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and cruise ships. The bacterium can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made water systems, like hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, and decorative fountains.

Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to Legionella bacteria. People at increased risk of Legionnaire’s disease are those 50 years of age or older, or those who have certain risk factors, such as being a current or former smoker, having a chronic disease, or having a weakened immune system. In 2018, Illinois reported 510 cases of Legionnaires’ disease statewide with 285 confirmed to date in 2019.