Press Release

June 6, 2008


State public health director reaches out to pool patrons who may be sick with Legionnaires’ disease

 Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported in McHenry County  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, is warning people who may have recently used the swimming pool and spa facilities at the Hampton Inn in McHenry about legionellosis. Two individuals, a McHenry County resident and a person from Michigan have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. Both are reported to have used the hot tub facility at the hotel on the same day at the end of May, and both have been hospitalized.

“Because not every person who used the swimming facilities at the hotel may have stayed at the hotel, and some patrons may live in other states, we want to make sure everyone is aware of the two confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease. Legionnaires’ can be severe, so we want to make sure people are informed,” said Dr. Arnold.

Today an Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) inspector, assisted by the McHenry County Health Department, performed a preliminary investigation of the swimming pool and spa facilities at the Hampton Inn. The inspector collected water samples that will be analyzed for legionella. IDPH is also working with the hotel to contact guests who stayed at the hotel since May 9 to inform them of the two Legionnaires’ cases and collect health information.

Legionellosis can be a mild respiratory illness or it can be severe enough to cause death. The most common symptoms of legionellosis are fever (102 degrees F - 105 degrees F), chills and a cough. Some patients also have muscle aches, headaches, tiredness, loss of appetite and, occasionally, diarrhea. Antibiotics are used to treat the disease.

The period between exposure and onset of illness for Legionnaires' disease is two to 10 days, but most often five to six days.

Legionella is a bacteria found naturally in the environment. Legionella can grow in public swimming facilities, especially hot tubs or spas due to the warm water environment. Disinfection of affected facilities and post-cleanup sampling will be performed before the facility is allowed to re-open to the public.

Most people contract the disease by inhaling mist from a water source contaminated with the bacteria. All studies to date have shown that person-to-person spread does not occur. Outbreaks occur following the exposure of many individuals to a common source of the bacteria in the environment. Environmental testing is recommended only when multiple cases have the same potential exposure.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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