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Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been linked to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, according to news reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) last Thursday that an out-of-state patient treated at the hospital in November had contracted the disease. The first case was reported in May, according to the IDPH.

Chicago Legionnaires' disease: Two cases have been reported at Northwestern Memorial Hospital since May.

Chicago Legionnaires’ disease: Two cases have been reported at Northwestern Memorial Hospital since May.

When two or more cases of Legionnaires’ disease occur at a single site in a period of six months or more, they are categorized as “linked.” If the two cases had occurred within a six-month period, it would have been considered a Legionnaires’ disease “outbreak” or “cluster.”

IDPH officials said they are working with the hospital, the Chicago Department of Public Health and the CDC to ensure that the following protocols occur:

  • providing guidance on what patients to test and when;
  • reviewing all pneumonia cases that occurred on the floors where the two patients stayed;
  • discuss flushing protocols on the floors where the two patients stayed;
  • discuss expanding use of filters for shower heads and sink on the floors where the two patients stayed;
  • reviewing environmental water testing logs and water sampling approaches.

Illinois’ top hospital

Northwestern Memorial Hospital is ranked No. 13 on the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals Honor Roll for 2017-18, the sixth consecutive year the hospital has made the prestigious honor roll.

Northwestern Memorial was ranked No. 1 in both the Chicago metro area and in the state of Illinois for the sixth consecutive year. It scored high in patient safety and demonstrating a commitment to reducing accidents and medical mistakes.

 Legionnaires’ on rise in health-care facilities

The CDC this year released information from a new study of the U.S. health-care industry and found that 76 percent of the facilities studied in 2015 reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease.

The findings are especially alarming for residents living at, or patients admitted to, the facilities, as 25 percent of those infected in a health-care facility will die. The death rate is higher than for people who get the infection elsewhere; 10 percent are estimated to succumb to the disease overall.

According to the CDC’s analysis, among the Legionnaires’ disease cases associated with health-care facilities:

  • 80 percent were linked to long-term facilities; 18 percent with hospitals, and 2 percent with both
  • cases were reported from 72 unique facilities, with the number of cases ranging from 1 to 6 per facility
  • 88 percent were in people 60 years of age or older.