An outbreak of 14 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Batavia has health officials worried the potentially deadly lung infection is spreading, officials said Saturday.
The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health said she is concerned because the outbreak of 12 cases in Covenant Assisted Living in Batavia has spread to two people in the nearby community.
Legionnaires’ disease is not transmitted person-to-person, but people can contract it by breathing in small droplets of water containing Legionella bacteria.
IDPH said the facility in Batavia plans to clean its water systems including cooling towers that release water droplets into the air to people up to a mile or two away.
“They may still be infected and potentially show symptoms 10-14 days after exposure. So we’re bracing ourselves knowing that there may be some additional cases even though some of the corrective measures have been taken,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Legionnaires’ disease usually begins with a high fever, chills, muscle aches, cough and shortness of breath, especially in smokers and people over the age of 50.
In 2018, Illinois reported 510 cases of Legionnaires’ disease statewide with 285 confirmed to date in 2019.
IDPH told NBC 5 that of those cases, 22 were fatal in 2019 and 44 in 2018.