State and local health officials have confirmed three recent Legionnaires’ disease cases at a Carol Stream retirement home, two of them fatal.
Deaths from Disease, “Underlying Condition”
Since May 2019, three Legionnaires’ disease cases have surfaced at the Covenant Living at Windsor Park retirement community at 124 Windsor Park Drive, Carol Stream, IL. On January 18, a DuPage County Health Department spokesman said that “Two residents of Windsor Park have died from a combination of Legionnaires’ disease and other underlying conditions.”
The names and ages of the deceased residents could not be released because they are considered “protected health information,” though they reportedly were diagnosed in May and November. One other nonfatal case at Covenant Living at Windsor Park involves a resident living “in skilled nursing who was admitted from the local community and tested positive for the Legionella bacteria.”
Officials at Covenant Living said they believe each case is “unique and unrelated given the timeframe. Our top priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our residents.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and DuPage County officials are collecting information from Windsor Park and testing the facility’s water. Windsor Park is also working to inform residents who may be affected and following IDPH recommendations for identifying other potential cases, “taking action based on its water management plan, and implementing multiple control measures” that include flushing the plumbing system.
This is not the first time Legionnaires’ disease has broken out at a Covenant Living facility. In October 2019, the Kane County Health Department reported thirteen confirmed Legionnaires’ disease cases at Covenant Living at the Holmstad in Batavia, with several residents hospitalized as a result.
Legionnaires’ Disease Cases Common at Hospitals, Nursing Facilities
Legionnaires’ disease is an atypical form of pneumonia that was first identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) following a 1976 outbreak at an American Legion Convention in Philadelphia. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by infection with Legionella pneumophila, which may be found naturally in fresh water and frequently contaminates 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 bacteria.
It can take two to ten days for people exposed to Legionella to show signs of infection. Early symptoms may include muscle pain, headaches, or discomfort, while later ones might include dry coughing, fever, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, coma, or death.
While anyone could be infected, Legionnaires’ disease typically afflicts people who are already in a vulnerable or weakened state, including the elderly, diabetics, smokers, and those with poor immune function or chronic lung disease – all of whom are more likely to be patients at hospitals or nursing homes. For this reason, hospitals and nursing facilities are especially likely to fall prey to outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, a tendency that has been borne out in Illinois over the past year.
In addition to the cases reported at the Covenant Living facilities, 2019 also saw Illinois health officials investigating possible Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at Mercy Hospital, the University of Chicago Medical Center, and Rush Oak Park Hospital. In June of that year, the IDPH also announced that three patients and one staff member at Oak Lawn’s Advocate Christ Medical Center had tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease since 2018.
One of the most notorious outbreaks in recent state history took place at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy. Thirteen retired veterans at the facility have died from Legionnaires’ disease since 2015, and at least 61 other residents have been sickened by it.
Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys Who Will Fight for You
If you or a loved one has contracted Legionnaires’ disease while at a public facility, contact GWC Injury Lawyers LLC to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with one of our Chicago personal injury attorneys.
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