A possible Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Danville, Illinois may have sickened three people. Doug Toole, public health administrator at the Vermilion County Health Department told Food Poisoning Bulletin that three people developed the illness after visiting the Red Roof Inn at 389 Lynch Drive in Danville between October 2015 and September 2016. Two of those sickened are from Michigan, and the other patient lives in northern Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Public Health collected samples from that facility on October 5, 2016. The hotel has closed the hotel’s pool and whirlpool, according to news reports.
An advisory posted at the Vermilion County Health Department web site doesn’t say much other than give facts about Legionnaires’ Disease. This illness is caused by legionella bacteria that grow in warm water, especially large plumbing systems of older buildings.
Structures that can harbor the bacteria include whirlpools, hot water tanks, cooling towers, evaporated condensers, showers, pools, and fountains. The bacteria grow very slowly, but are quite persistent. When water vapor is released from those structures, the bacteria aerosolizes.
Then a person breathes in the bacteria in the mist and can get sick. This illness is not spread person-to-person. Those are get sick are usually over the age of 50, current or former smokers, and those with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems.
About 300 cases of Legionnaires’ Disease are reported in Illinois every year. Throughout the United States, there are 8,000 to 18,000 cases ever year. The mortality rate with this disease ranges from 5% to 30%.
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease include fever, muscle aches, cough, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and confusion. Symptoms are very similar to pneumonia. People with this illness are, in fact, often first diagnosed with pneumonia, but when more people who live or work in an area present with these symptoms, doctors test for Legionnaires’.
Because the bacteria grow so slowly, testing on a patient can take up to three days. Testing on water supplies in a building can take weeks.
Legionnaires’ Disease is a reportable disease. If you have been experiencing the symptoms of pneumonia, see your doctor. This illness is treatable with antibiotics, but recovery is better if it is caught and treated early.