Health Department Investigating Nursing Home after Single Patient Confirmed with Legionnaire’s Disease

The WCHD (Will County Health Department) and IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health) are investigating a health care-associated case of Legionnaire’s disease at a senior home in Bolingbrook.  No potential source locations outside the home have been identified.

Both WCHD and the IDPH are working with Meadowbrook Manor to collect information and further investigate any potential cases.  Meadowbrook Manor has been taking a proactive approach to follow IDPH policies and requests that are made when any facility has a health care-associated Legionnaire’s disease case.  These initiatives taken have included investigative and hygienic steps to reduce the risk of possible exposures, and notifying all residents and their families of the situation.

IDPH has recommended that the facility conduct surveillance to identify other potential cases, and to ensure appropriate testing and clinical management of residents.  IDPH has also recommended that the facility review its water management plan, and take necessary steps to reduce exposure to aerosolized water, which could include restricting water use, installing point of use filters, flushing water through pipes and fixtures, and implementing other actions.

Legionnaire’s disease cannot be passed from person to person.  Legionella bacteria occur naturally in the environment.  Water containing Legionella can cause Legionnaire’s disease after being inhaled following aerosolization through cooling towers, showers, hot tubs, and decorative fountains.   Legionella bacteria can become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made water systems.  Outbreaks are most commonly associated with buildings or structures that have complete water systems and substantial plumbing.  This can include hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and cruise ships.

The following statement on the confirmed case of Legionnaire’s Disease at Meadowbrook Manor is from a faculty representative:

“In response to recent reports that a resident from Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook tested positive for Legionnaire’s Disease, the facility has initiated proactive water management plan safety measures to ensure that all residents, staff and visitors are not subject to any exposure or risk for the Legionella bacteria. In addition, we are conducting an active investigation, as these test results do not pinpoint exactly when or where the resident was exposed to the bacteria. Nevertheless, the facility has implemented water restrictions and installed water filters in the facility. To date all water samples collected by the facility have tested negative for Legionella and more advance testing has been completed and the results are pending.  Ensuring resident safety and wellbeing is our primary mission.” 

Most healthy people, however, do not develop Legionnaire’s disease after being exposed to Legionella bacteria.  More information on Legionnaire’s disease can be found at the IDPH website (http://www.dph.illinois.gov/) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (https://www.cdc.gov/).