McHenry County

McHenry County Legionnaires' Cases Leave Officials Scratching Heads

Officials in McHenry county were still trying to identify Wednesday what the common factors are in numerous cases of Legionnaires' disease.

Public health officials say they have notified surrounding municipalities that they’ve seen a total of nine cases of legionnaire’s disease from across their county over the last month. But, they say, though they are wide-spread and none have been found at long-term care facilities.

“It’s not so much the number it’s the time frame … nine cases have occurred basically within a month has our attention," Community information coordinator for the McHenry County Department of Health, Kari Zaleski, said.

On Tuesday the health department said all nine cases were diagnosed between June 7 and July 1--a number of those patients required hospitalization.

“Everyone--all except one patient--has been released,” Zaleski said.

Officials say Legionnaires is caused by a bacteria commonly found naturally in environments like lakes and streams.

The disease is not spread from person to person, but when water sources contaminated with the bacteria are inhaled as mist or vapor. So far officials have not been able to isolate a source.

“We’re looking at everything, nothing is really coming up, vaporized or aerosolized is what we’re looking at," Susan Karras, director of nursing at McHenry County's health department said.

Generally, symptoms typically begin two to ten days after exposure and can include:

  • muscle aches
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • other symptoms include
  • fever and chills
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing
  • headache and confusion

Though, no new cases have been diagnosed in the last 10 days, officials say it may not be over yet.

“If we’re thinking this is a weather related trend that this weekend coming hot humid weather, we could see a peak after this weekend again," Karras said.

Officials are alerting healthcare providers and residents to be aware as they continue to investigate the cause.

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