An Update on Legionnaires' Disease Cases in Chicago

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On Aug. 27, 2012, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the JW Marriott Chicago Hotel provided an update on an ongoing investigation into a cluster of respiratory illness among people who visited the JW Marriott Chicago hotel located at 151 W. Adams St. in Chicago.
 
Since Aug. 14, 2012 CDPH has received reports of eight confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease among people who visited the hotel during this time frame, including two deaths linked to the disease, suggesting that the hotel is the common exposure setting.

A third visitor to the hotel earlier this summer, a resident of Ireland, died after contracting Legionnaires’ disease, city officials announced on Aug. 31, 2012.

The CDPH says it strongly believes there is currently no ongoing health risk at the hotel. None of the confirmed cases are individuals living in Chicago. Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill. Elderly people, smokers, and people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems are more vulnerable. The disease is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
 
Last week, CDPH was able to confirm three cases. Due in part to communication conducted by CDPH and the hotel over the course of last week, the number of cases reported to CDPH with confirmed Legionnaires’ disease increased.

About 8,500 people were guests at the JW Marriott Chicago during this timeframe, and the majority of these guests have been contacted by the hotel to make them aware of the situation.
 
A hotline has been set up by CDPH to answer questions from people who may have been exposed to the disease. That phone number is (312) 746-4835 during Monday-Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, CDT. Since the initial announcement by CDPH and JW Marriott last week, the hotline has received about 100 calls from people both reporting symptoms similar to Legionnaires’ disease and also looking for general information.
 
CDPH continues to encourage people who stayed at the hotel between July 16, 2012 to Aug. 15, 2012 and who are experiencing symptoms consistent with Legionnaires’ disease or who have been diagnosed with pneumonia to contact their healthcare provider to discuss whether treatment is needed or whether any current treatment needs to be modified.
 
“We believe that there is no ongoing health threat at the hotel. Individuals who stayed at the hotel during this time period who are experiencing flu-like symptoms are encourage to get in touch with a healthcare provider because it is important that all potential cases are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, to shorten the recovery period and help prevent serious complications,” says Dr. Kathleen Ritger, medical director over communicable disease for the Chicago Department of Public Health.
 
The hotel continues to be fully cooperative with the investigation and has followed public health recommendations to reduce the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria in its environment.
 
CDPH says it believes the source has been identified and this remains part of an ongoing investigation being conducted in partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For a slide show on Legionnaires' disease from ICT, CLICK HERE.  

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