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Five cases of Legionnaires’ disease confirmed

WAUKEGAN – The Lake County Health Department continues to investigate an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Brookdale Vernon Hills senior living facility on Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills.

Since receiving initial reports of Legionnaires’ disease at the facility, a total of five confirmed cases have been identified, including one death.

“Together with the Illinois Department of Public Health and Brookdale staff, we took immediate action to investigate this outbreak and prevent additional exposure to Legionella bacteria at the facility,” said Mark Pfister, executive director of the Lake County Health Department. “As a result, preventive measures are in place and no new cases have been reported within the past week.”

Results from the environmental investigation confirmed the presence of Legionella bacteria in samples collected at the facility Feb. 5 before full preventive measures were implemented. Legionella bacteria were detected in one apartment, a pool filter, an irrigation system and a decorative water fountain.

Several measures have been implemented at the Brookdale facility to prevent exposure to Legionella bacteria, including point-of-use filters. Thermal disinfection of the water system was performed the week of Feb. 10, and hyperchlorination of the water system is scheduled.  

Because infection from Legionella occurs when a person inhales water mist or vapor containing the bacteria, water features have been turned off and the facility’s pool and spa have been drained. These measures will remain in place and will be reevaluated after additional environmental testing results are received.

Residents and visitors of the Brookdale Vernon Hills facility who are experiencing pneumonia symptoms – cough, shortness of breath, headache, muscle aches and fever – are encouraged to see a doctor right away to be tested for Legionnaires’ disease.

For information about Legionella, visit www.cdc.gov/legionella/about/causes-transmission.html. For updates, visit the Lake County Health Department website at health.lakecountyil.gov.

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