The WCHD (Will County Health Department) and IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health) are investigating two health care-associated cases of Legionnaire’s disease at a senior home in Plainfield. No potential source locations outside the facility have been identified.
Both WCHD and the IDPH are now working with Lakewood Nursing Home & Rehab in Plainfield to collect information and further investigate any potential cases. IDPH has recommended that Lakewood Nursing Home and Rehab 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.
Lakewood Nursing Home & Rehab has issued the following statement: “Although it is not clear that these environmental risks have come from Lakewood Nursing, as a safety precaution we have implemented our Water Management Program and Environmental Risk Protocol. We have taken these extreme measures as a safety precaution until this possible threat is ruled out for us. In addition, this facility has been working with the County and State Departments for guidance, and a water specialist for any assistance they may provide. Our goal in deploying our Water Management Program and Environmental Risk Assessment Protocol is to ensure our residents, staff and visitors are safe and we will take every precaution we can until this risk is eliminated.” Ron Nunziato, CEO, Extended Care, Consultants to Lakewood Nursing.
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.
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/).