Health Officials Testing For Legionnaires’ At Three Sites In Champaign-Urbana

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District office building.

Offices of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District in Champaign.

CU Citizen Access

The Illinois Department of Public Health said Tuesday that six residents of Champaign-Urbana have been diagnosed in recent weeks with Legionnaires' disease, a form of pneumonia caused by a bacteria carried in water mist.

Public health officials in Champaign-Urbana are currently conducting tests for the Legionella bacteria at three sites. One of those sites was identified as First Christian Church in Champaign, according to a press release from IDPH.  

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde said local officials had not planned to release the names of any of the sites being tested, until results for the Legionella bacteria came back, which they expected to happen Thursday. In the meantime, Pryde said steps have already been taken to control the risk at all three locations where the outbreak could have begun.

“Any time that we suspect something, we will tell the site that we’re suspecting to, in this instance, turn off the fountain,” Pryde said. “If we think it’s something, we’re immediately trying to control the risk while we wait for results to come back.”

The disease generally cannot be spread from person to person, but instead is carried in mist from contaminated water fountains, showers, baths or other building water systems. It is possible to be exposed to the bacteria without becoming sick, according to the CDC. Those most at risk of developing an illness are people over the age of 50, smokers or people with weakened immune systems.  

“Really, only about five percent of people who are infected with it will be hospitalized,” Pryde said.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include fever, cough, shortness of breath and muscle aches. People with those symptoms are encouraged to visit their primary care doctor. All six of the residents diagnosed with Legionnaires’ in Champaign-Urbana since Sept. 15 were hospitalized, but have recovered, or are recovering, according to the Public Health District.  

Carle Foundation Hospital had a Neonatal Intensive Care Union reunion scheduled for Oct. 20 at First Christian Church. The hospital announced Wednesday that it had cancelled the event, "to keep young children and their families healthy," and does not currently have plans to reschedule. 

Story source: WILL