Illinois health officials have confirmed two more cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Batavia, for a total of at least fourteen active cases in the area, most centered around a senior living community.
Fourteen Confirmed Cases Since August
Since late August 2019, twelve people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at Covenant Living at the Holmstad, a senior living community at 700 W. Fabyan Parkway in Batavia, IL. On September 12, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) received reports of two new cases in the surrounding area, bringing the total number of Legionnaires’ cases in Batavia to fourteen.
Public health officials have warned residents of Covenant Living and those living within a mile of the facility to be on the lookout for symptoms of respiratory illness that could stem from exposure to Legionella pneumophila, the bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease. The IDPH has yet to determine a definitive cause for the outbreak, though the two new cases prompted the agency to test additional samples at the senior living community and within a one-mile radius of its campus.
Cause and Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires’ disease is an atypical form of pneumonia. It was first identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after a 1976 outbreak at an American Legion Convention in Philadelphia, PA. There are roughly a thousand cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported to the CDC each year, though that number may be far lower than the actual rate of infection.
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by infection with Legionella pneumophila, which may be found naturally in fresh water. It can take two to ten days for people exposed to Legionella to show signs of infection. Early symptoms can include muscle pain, headaches, and discomfort; later ones might include dry coughing, fever, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In extreme cases, Legionnaires’ disease could result in coma and death. While anyone could be infected, the disease typically targets those who are already in a weakened state, such as the elderly, smokers, diabetics, and those with poor immune systems or chronic lung disease.
Legionella may contaminate various water sources, including air conditioner cooling towers, water tanks, showers, hot tubs, and fountains. It is not usually passed from person to person but instead spreads when people breathe in mist that contains the bacterium. Covenant Living has been implementing several measures at its Batavia campus to mitigating the presence of the bacterium, including flushing the water, cleaning cooling towers, and installing filters. The water droplets through which Legionella spreads can travel upwards of one mile, so health officials are including the two cases outside the retirement facility in the outbreak because of their proximity.
Multiple Recent Cases in Northern Illinois
The fourteen Legionnaires’ disease cases in Batavia join a number of incidents in northern Illinois this past year, most of which have been associated with hospitals.
Illinois health officials investigated possible outbreaks at Mercy Hospital in April and at the University of Chicago Medical Center in May. In June, the IDPH announced that three patients and one staff member at Oak Lawn’s Advocate Christ Medical Center had tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease since 2018, including two who had been patients within the two previous months. In July, the IDPH announced it was also investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease in individuals who were recent patients at Rush Oak Park Hospital, one in May and the other in mid-July.
Let a Burr Ridge Personal Injury Lawyer Help You
If you or a loved one has contracted Legionnaires’ disease while at a public facility, contact GWC today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with a Burr Ridge personal injury attorney.
With over $2 billion recovered over more than four decades in practice, GWC Injury Lawyers is one of the leading Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. We have helped thousands of clients throughout the state obtain the justice they deserve and would appreciate the chance to fight for you and your family when you need it most.