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Elliot Olsen has regained millions for clients harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at a Chicago hospital, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Health officials in Illinois announced that they are investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at a Chicago hospital – for the second consecutive week.

The University of Chicago Medical Center (UChicago Medicine) in Hyde Park is at the center of the latest announcement. On April 26, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said two patients at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center (2525 South Michigan Avenue) on the Near South Side were diagnosed with the potentially deadly type of pneumonia.

Second Chicago hospital plagued by Legionnaires' disease

For the second time in two weeks, Illinois health officials said they are investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at a Chicago hospital, this time the University of Chicago Medical Center (pictured).

Chicago hospital outbreak:
No Legionella found – yet

UChicago Medicine officials said both patients were at the facility for a limited time during their “risk period,” so it is unknown whether the hospital is the source of the Legionella bacteria that caused the illnesses.

Environmental tests conducted during the patients’ stays at UChicago Medicine were negative for Legionella. In addition, the IDPH said both patients received care at other facilities before UChicago Medicine but did not name those hospitals.

The IDPH is investigating UChicago Medicine (5841 South Maryland Avenue) with the assistance of hospital officials and the Chicago Department of Health (CDPH).

Chicago hospital outbreak:
Legionella at Mercy

Although Legionella were not found in UChicago Medicine’s water system, the same cannot be said for Mercy Hospital. Investigators for both the IDPH and the CDPH collected environmental samples for laboratory testing, which showed the bacteria’s presence.

Mercy Hospital officials said at the time of the announcement of the illnesses that they are working with health officials and a water-management team to strengthen the hospital’s water-management practices. According to the IDPH, protective measures have been enacted, such as flushing the water system, altering or replacing water fixtures, and placing filters on sinks.

Chicago hospital outbreak:
Severe pneumonia

Legionnaires’ disease is also known as Legionella pneumonia and legionellosis, and it is a severe type of pneumonia (lung infection) caused by Legionella, which is contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (mist or vapor). The disease is treatable with antibiotics, but if it is not diagnosed early enough, the infection can lead to severe complications and even can become deadly.

Most people who are exposed to the bacteria do not get sick, but people 50 and older – especially smokers or anyone with a chronic lung condition – are at a higher risk of infection. Other people more susceptible include:

  • organ-transplant recipients
  • anyone on a specific drug protocol, such as corticosteroids
  • alcoholics.

Also on the list are people with immune systems weakened by:

  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), which is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.
  • frequent and recurrent pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections
  • organ inflammation and infection
  • blood disorders, such as low platelet counts or anemia
  • digestive problems, such as nausea, cramping, appetite loss, and diarrhea
  • delayed growth and development.

Chicago hospital outbreak:
Diagnosis difficult

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 25,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease yearly in the U.S., but only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms, such as:

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Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: