Health officials investigating 3 cases of Legionnaires' disease in downstate Illinois

Legionnaires Disease

Illinois health officials are investigating a cluster of three cases of Legionnaires' disease in downstate Shelby County.

Officials said all three patients reside in Findlay and reported the onset of their illnesses between July 30 and Aug. 4.

In addition to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Shelby County Health Department are assisting in the investigation.

Last week, the Illinois EPA tested the public water supply in Findlay and found no concerns with chlorine levels, known as an effective disinfectant against Legionnaires'.

Environmental samples will continue to be collected, though officials said that the source of Legionella is rarely determined through environmental investigation.

“As the epidemiological and environmental investigation of this Legionnaires’ disease cluster continues, it is important to release this information to ensure that anyone with risk factors who has symptoms is aware and seeks evaluation and treatment. Legionnaires’ disease usually begins with a high fever (102 degrees F to 105 degrees F), chills, muscle aches, cough and shortness of breath, and symptoms usually develop up to two weeks after exposure," IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said.

Legionnaires' is a serious lung infection that can be contracted by breathing in small droplets of water containing the Legionella bacteria.

Legionnaires' is generally not spread person-to-person, but rather through water systems in buildings such as hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities and cruise ships.

Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to Legionella bacteria. People at increased risk of Legionnaire’s disease are those 50 years of age or older, or those who have certain risk factors such as being a current or former smoker, having a chronic disease, or having a weakened immune system.

In 2022, Illinois reported 381 cases of Legionnaires’ disease statewide with 215 confirmed to date in 2023.

More information on the disease can be found here.

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