Health officials have found two new clusters of Legionnaires’ disease in Illinois, the first linked to a Walmart in Johnsburg and the second affecting residents at a nursing home in Chicago’s South Loop.
Walmart, Nursing Home Linked to Legionnaires’ Disease
Three people who reported being at the Johnsburg Walmart in McHenry County have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. The people in question are residents of Lake and McHenry Counties.
Meanwhile, two residents at the Warren Barr nursing home in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago have also tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease. Experts believe that these cases of Legionnaires’ disease are unrelated to those associated with the Walmart in Johnsburg, IL.
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by exposure to the bacterium Legionella pneumophila, which can lead to a severe lung infection. The disease is not spread from person to person, but it can be deadly for those with weakened immune systems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Outbreaks are most commonly associated with buildings or structures that have complex water systems, like hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and cruise ships.”
As of October 26, officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health were investigating the cause of these Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.
Are Outbreak Locations Doing Enough?
The director at Warren Barr said that the home has notified direct relatives of those who tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, and pamphlets about the illness will be placed throughout the home.
The director further noted that there is a self-imposed water restriction in place at Warren Barr after the Illinois and Chicago Departments of Public Health raised concerns about the water quality, though no violations were issued. She claimed that the Department of Water conducted its own testing and found the facility’s water to meet quality standards. Bottled water has been brought into the home.
A patient at Warren Barr’s Gold Coast facility died of Legionnaires’ disease in 2015.
In response to the cases associated with its Johnsburg store, Walmart issued a statement: “We take the situation seriously and out of an abundance of caution are replacing our sprinkler system, which is specifically designed with nozzle sizes and no reservoirs to minimize and prevent exposure to this problem,” the statement read. “Because Legionella can be found almost anywhere, and the Legionella found was not the strain that reportedly caused the illnesses, the health department has been unable to confirm that our store was the source.”
Thirteen people have been killed and dozens more sickened from Legionnaires’ disease at the state-run Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, IL since 2015. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently announced that her office would be launching a criminal investigation into whether the Rauner administration improperly handled the Legionnaires’ disease crisis at the Illinois Veterans’ Home.
Legionnaires’ Disease Litigation
If you or a loved one lives in Illinois and has contracted Legionnaires’ disease, please contact the Illinois personal injury attorneys at GWC Law for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.
With over $2 billion recovered for our clients and offices throughout the state, GWC Law is one of Illinois’ leading Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms.