The Illinois Department of Public Health is investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease in individuals who were patients at Rush Oak Park Hospital earlier this year, the officials announced Friday.
According to a press release, one patient was in the hospital in May, while the other was at the facility in mid-July. The department said that both individuals were patients at the hospital for part of the time when they could have been exposed to the bacteria.
In a statement, Rush University Medical Center says they do not believe the hospital is the source of the Legionella bacteria in the cases.
IDPH took new water samples from the hospital this week, and says that previous water samples collected by the hospital tested positive for Legionella bacteria.
The department is investigating the incident, and the hospital says it is continuing to adhere to routine procedures that help reduce potential exposure, including adding disinfecting agents to water, flushing pipes, and installing filters.
"We are working with IDPH to investigate the origins of two Legionella cases," the hospital said in a statement. "The source of these two cases are yet to be determined, and the health and safety of our patients, visitors, and staff is of the utmost importance."
Legionella bacteria occur naturally in the environment, but isn’t transferred from human-to-human. Rather it is spread after water containing the bacteria becomes aerosolized through cooling tours and decorative fountains, among other structures, and can occur in complex water systems like those found in hotels and hospitals.