IDPH Investigating Legionnaires’ Disease Cases at Two Chicago Nursing Homes

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) are investigating cases of Legionnaires’ disease at two separate nursing homes in Chicago. Two residents at Balmoral Nursing Home and one resident at Admiral at the Lake have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. The cases at the two facilities do not appear to be related. Residents at each of the nursing homes were at the facility for the entire 10 days before they started showing symptoms, also known as the exposure period.

Balmoral Nursing Home has implemented water restrictions and installed water filters in certain areas of the facility. IDPH has collected water samples for testing and is awaiting results. Water samples collected by the facility and tested by its consultant were negative for Legionella bacteria. The facility has provided verbal and written notification to residents and employees. The facility is also conducting surveillance to identify other potential cases and to ensure appropriate testing and clinical management.

Admiral at the Lake is in the process of informing residents and staff about the Legionnaires’ disease case and will work to identify other potential cases while implementing appropriate testing and clinical management. IDPH environmental health staff conducted an onsite visit and is coordinating with CDPH and the Chicago Department of Water Management. The facility is implementing processes to reduce exposure and has hired, and been working with, a water management company.

Legionella bacteria occur naturally in the environment. Water containing Legionella can be aerosolized through cooling towers, showers, hot tubs, and decorative fountains, and can cause Legionnaire’s disease, a serious lung infection (pneumonia) when inhaled. Legionnaires’ disease is not passed from person to person. Outbreaks are most commonly associated with buildings or structures that have complex water systems like hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and cruise ships. The bacteria can become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made water systems, like hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, and decorative fountains. Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to Legionella bacteria.

More information about Legionnaires’ disease can be found on the IDPH website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.