Health officials are investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease in patients who were treated at Rush Oak Park Hospital in the past three months.
The Illinois Department of Public Health visited the facility last week to sample the water. Previous samples collected by the hospital showed positive results for legionella bacteria, according to the IDPH.
Legionella bacteria occur naturally in the environment, and water vapor infected with the bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a flu-like malady, when it is inhaled. Most people do not get Legionnaires’ after exposure to Legionella bacteria, and the disease is not transmitted from person to person. Elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible to the disease.
IDPH is working with the hospital and the Oak Park Department of Public Health to collect information and further investigate the cases. The hospital says it routinely conducts water testing and has taken steps to reduce any potential exposure, such as adding disinfectant to the water, flushing pipes and installing point-of-use filters, according to health officials.
The hospital is conducting surveillance to identify other potential cases and to ensure appropriate testing and clinical management of patients.