Officials confirm two more cases of Legionnaires' disease in Vernon Hills

  • The number of confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease at Brookdale Senior Living in Vernon Hills has risen to five, officials confirmed Wednesday. One of the earlier cases was fatal.

      The number of confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease at Brookdale Senior Living in Vernon Hills has risen to five, officials confirmed Wednesday. One of the earlier cases was fatal. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/19/2020 6:05 PM

Two new cases of Legionnaires' disease have been confirmed at a senior living facility in Vernon Hills.

The new cases bring the number of infections at Brookdale Senior Living, 145 N. Milwaukee Ave., to five. The original outbreak of three cases, which included one death, was made public by the Lake County Health Department Feb. 5.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Legionnaires' disease is a type of severe pneumonia caused by breathing in mist or vapor containing the Legionella bacteria, which grow in areas of warm water such as cooling towers and evaporative condensers, whirlpool spas and decorative fountains.

Lake County health officials have been working with the Illinois Department of Public Health and Brookdale staff to identify potential sources.

Mitch Kline, a spokesman for Tennessee-based Brookdale, said the company is taking "appropriate steps" and continues to follow the protocols and recommendations of state and county health departments. The facility's water feature and pond have been turned off and the pool and spa closed, he said.

"We continue to follow the recommendations of a national water treatment company regarding flushing water lines, cleaning shower heads and adding point-of-use filters," Kline said.

"Our associates have been trained in the correct protocols to minimize the chance of exposure to the Legionella bacteria and to monitor residents for signs and symptoms of illness."

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include cough, shortness of breath, headache, muscle aches and fever. According to the Lake County Health Department, most healthy people don't get the disease after being exposed, but those 50 and older, current or former smokers and those with a chronic lung disease, weakened immune systems, cancer or underlying illnesses are at increased risk.

Legionnaires' is treatable with antibiotics. Most people who get sick need care in a hospital but make a full recovery, according to the health department. The illness is fatal in about 10% of cases.

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