Legionnaires' disease confirmed at McHenry senior living community

Updated 11/15/2018 6:39 PM

Three cases of Legionnaires' disease were confirmed at an independent senior living community in McHenry, health officials said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, "working closely" with the McHenry County Health Department, confirmed Thursday the third case of the disease, a serious lung infection, at McHenry Villa, according to a news release.

McHenry Villa, 3516 West Waukegan Road, is notifying residents, their contacts and staff members. All three cases had outside exposures, and two had potential exposures at Centegra Hospital -- McHenry, the release said.

"IDPH is investigating possible sources, identifying individuals who may have been exposed, and recommending remediation and prevention measures," the agency's director, Nirav D. Shah, said in the release.

Noreen Zaio, McHenry Villa's executive director, said in a statement late Friday that the nursing home "recently learned" IDPH confirmed three residents have Legionnaires' disease.

"The health and safety of our residents and staff is our number one priority and our staff will continue to ensure our residents receive uninterrupted service," Zaio said. "We will continue to work closely with the department of health to support its efforts and follow all the recommended guidelines and procedures to minimize exposure for residents, visitors and staff."

Centegra Hospital officials don't believe the hospital was "the site for this exposure," spokeswoman Michelle Green said in an email. The hospital reported the two patients to the state health department, she said.

"The safety of our patients, staff and visitors is our highest priority. As part of our ongoing commitment to patient safety, we routinely test our hospitals' water supply to ensure it meets and exceeds the standards set by the Illinois Department of Public Health," Green said. "Within the last month, we completed a routine water test at our McHenry Hospital and the results showed there was no Legionella pneumophila in the water."

A nursing home in Chicago also is reporting a third Legionnaires' case, the release also said.

People can get the diseases by breathing in small droplets of water containing Legionella bacteria. The disease does not spread from person to person, Shah said.

Outbreaks are most commonly associated with buildings that have "complex water systems," such as hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and cruise ships. The bacteria can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, and decorative fountains, the release said.

Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires' disease after being exposed, but at increased risk are those who are 50 or older and those who are a current or former smoker, have a chronic disease or have a weakened immune system.

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