Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in a Columbus outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


You can’t turn on the news these days without hearing or reading about Coronavirus or COVID-19. Legionnaires’ disease, however, continues to be a puzzle that health-care providers in Columbus, Ohio, have yet to solve.

Just last week, Arlington Court Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center in suburban Columbus became the seventh Columbus-area facility to report a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak since May of last year. The nursing facility, located about 6 miles northwest of downtown Columbus, had two cases of the pneumonia-like illness diagnosed last month, adding to an initial case from last October.

Legionellosis outbreaks occur when two or more people are exposed to Legionella bacteria in the same place and get sick at about the same time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Legionellosis is the collective term for the two diseases – Legionnaires’ disease and its milder sibling, Pontiac fever – caused when one inhales small droplets of water that contain Legionella.

Columbus outbreak: one after the other

Although hospitals and nursing homes have provisions in place to bolster oversight of building waters systems and medical equipment that could expose patients to harmful Legionella, Columbus-area facilities have reported numerous issues over the past eight months:

  • In January, a 45-year-old resident of Pataskala Oaks Care Center was diagnosed with LD. Nursing home officials responded by turning off water fountains and installing filters on shower heads, as well as hyper-chlorinating the water system. The Legionella source is unknown.
  • Last October and November, three people who received treatment at Mount Carmel East Hospital on the east side of Columbus were infected with LD. It was the third Legionella issue for the Mount Carmel Health System in 2019.
  • In August, health officials said elevated levels of Legionella were detected in the water supply at Marian Hall on the Mount Carmel College of Nursing’s Franklinton campus. Construction disrupted the building’s water supply, and subsequent water tests uncovered the presence of Legionella. No illnesses were reported.
  • In July, the Delaware General Health District investigated a single confirmed case of LD at Country-View of Sunbury Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home about 25 miles north of Columbus.
  • In late June, an inmate at Franklin Medical Center in Columbus was hospitalized after contracting LD. It was the fifth LD case reported at the corrections medical center since 2017.
  • On May 31, in the largest LD outbreak in the state last year, Franklin County Public Health confirmed 16 patients were diagnosed with the disease at Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital. One victim died. The Columbus outbreak occurred a little more than a month after the seven-floor, $361 million hospital had opened on April 28. Trinity Health, the Michigan-based parent company of the Mount Carmel Health System, traced the Legionella to the facility’s hot water system. Officials said the contamination was the result of “inadequate disinfection,” and they admitted they failed to adequately re-test and re-clean the water supply on particular floors before the hospital opened.
Columbus outbreak: 2018 a bad year 

In 2018, the most recent year that statistics are available, Ohio was among the nation’s leaders in legionellosis cases with 903. Ohio trailed only New York, which had 1,424 cases (654 in New York City). Next in line were Pennsylvania (638), Michigan (644), Illinois (509), Florida (496), California (453) and Texas (415).

Franklin County reported 208 of the 903 cases in the state, according to the Ohio Department of Health, the most of any county. Franklin is the largest of the three counties encompassing Columbus; Delaware and Fairfield are the others.

Columbus outbreak: symptom similarities

A recent article on NPRIllinois.org comparing Legionnaires’ disease to coronavirus stated that “experts say there’s another, more common disease that ought to be getting more attention.” The headline? “In Illinois, Legionnaires’ disease more prevalent than Coronavirus.”

The symptoms of the two diseases look eerily similar:

Coronavirus symptoms develop within two to 14 days after exposure, although experts are still trying to determine the exact cause of the illness. Symptoms are flu-like, and include:

  • respiratory problems
  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulties.

In more severe Coronavirus cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

Legionnaires’ disease symptoms develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella. The illness frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • respiratory problems
  • fever
  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

In the most severe LD cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

The most significant difference between the two deadly illnesses is that coronavirus can be spread person-to-person; Legionnaires’ disease cannot.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in this Upper Arlington nursing facility outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Health officials are investigating a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a nursing facility in suburban Columbus, Ohio, that is under water restrictions.

According to a local family, however, the facility accepted a new patient without disclosing the outbreak.

The Arlington Court Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center, which is about 6 miles northwest of downtown Columbus in Upper Arlington, has recorded three cases of Legionnaires’ disease since last October, according to Mitzi Kline, Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) director of communication.

Two cases were reported last month, and the first occurred last October. No additional information on the patients was released.

Arlington Court, located at 1605 NW Professional Plaza, is a 125-bed skilled nursing facility serving the area for more than 30 years.

Upper Arlington nursing facility: puzzling findings

According to officials, results from water testing uncovered non-pneumophila, a type of Legionella bacteria not typically known to cause Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires’ disease – a type of bacterial pneumonia that is also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a respiratory illness that is contracted when people inhale microscopic aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist), such as those formed by misting stations or large air conditioners.

Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 is the most virulent (i.e., harmful) strain causing the majority of infections. Non-pneumophila species are normally considered nonpathogenic or incapable of causing disease.

“The non-pneumophila type is found commonly in water and soil and is not the type to normally cause illness,” said James Muckle, vice-president of operations for Vrable Healthcare Companies (VHC), the parent company of Arlington Court.

VHC said company officials are working closely with FCPH to investigate the matter.

Upper Arlington nursing facility: tests positive

Muckle noted that the bacteria was found in patient urine samples; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “if the patient has pneumonia and the test is positive, then you should consider the patient to have Legionnaires’ disease.”

Arlington Court implemented water restrictions Feb. 10 that included the installation of filters in showers, bathrooms, ice machines, in the kitchen and visitor areas throughout the facility.

“I believe they are doing business as usual,” Kline told Columbus’ NBC4 News. “As long as they can operate with showers and they are providing bottled water, we have not limited their business at all other than water restrictions.”

Upper Arlington nursing facility: uninformed check-in

Bette Kessler, 90, checked into the facility Friday suffering from flu symptoms, according to Kim Kessler, Bette’s daughter. Kim Kessler told ABC 6/Fox 28 that she was unable to safely care for her mother at home, so a hospice care company arranged a five-day “respite stay” at Arlington Court.

Kessler said she did not realize there were issues at the facility until Sunday morning, when Bette’s sink wouldn’t work. A hospice aide was told the sinks had been shut off, but communal showers fit with special filters could provide water, and bottled water was available by request.

Kim Kessler said the aide was not told why filters had been installed or sinks shut off. Kessler said she learned Sunday morning during a phone call with the facility’s director that the restrictions were in place due to a Legionella issue.

“If they would have told us that (before or during check-in), we would have said, ‘OK, thanks but no thanks, we’ll move on to the next one,’ but they didn’t even give us the option of making the decision,” Kim Kessler told NBC4 News.

Muckle wrote: “The facility has been transparent with our residents and families during this period of time. Letters were mailed out and posted in the facility by Feb. 11. These initial notices and further updates have remained prominently displayed in the facility.”

Kessler is working with the hospice care company to relocate her mother to another facility.

Upper Arlington nursing facility: patients at risk

A 2015 study by the CDC stated that “75 percent of (Legionnaires’ disease) acquired in health-care settings could be prevented with better water management.”

Almost all of the patients at Arlington Court fit one or more of the criteria of someone who is very susceptible to infection. To wit:

  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

The list also includes anyone with an immune system weakened by:

  • frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, 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 cramping, appetite loss, diarrhea, and nausea
  • delayed growth and development.

In the most severe LD cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Upper Arlington nursing facility: symptoms

Patients, employees, or recent visitors to Arlington Court should seek care from their health-care provider if they are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms, such as:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath, also called dyspnea
  • chest pains, also called pleurisy or pleuritis
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in this Lake County outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Testing by Lake County health officials uncovered Legionella bacteria in four locations in the facility where five residents have been sickened – one fatally – with Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires’ disease – known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a respiratory illness contracted when people inhale microscopic, aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist) containing Legionella. The bacteria is spread by showers, faucets, swimming pools, hot tubs, or decorative fountains, to name just a few potential sources.

The Lake County Health Department (LCHD) confirmed that Legionella was detected in “one apartment, a pool filter, an irrigation system, and a decorative water fountain” at Brookdale Vernon Hills.  The samples were collected on Feb. 5, before the facility executed preventive measures.

Brookdale Vernon Hills is a senior retirement community with independent and assisted living options, located at 145 North Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills.

Lake County outbreak: Legionella

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella occur naturally in freshwater environments, such as lakes and streams. Generally, the low amounts of the bacteria in freshwater do not lead to disease.

Legionella, however, can pose a health risk when the bacteria get into building water. To do this, Legionella grow and then spread through small water droplets (aerosolization) that people can inhale.

A variety of internal and external factors can lead to a Legionella problem in a building, including:

  • construction
  • water main breaks
  • changes in municipal water quality
  • biofilm (a collective of one or more types of microorganisms that can grow on many different surfaces)
  • scale and sediment
  • water temperature fluctuations
  • pH fluctuations
  • inadequate levels of disinfectant
  • changes in water pressure
  • water stagnation.

Some of the precautions the facility has taken to combat the issue include:

  • Thermal disinfection and hyperclorination has been performed for the entire water system.
  • Water features have been shut off.
  • The pool and spa have been closed.
  • Shower heads have been cleaned throughout the facility.
  • Point-of-use filters have been added wherever possible.

Lake County outbreak: symptoms

Even though there have been no reports of new illnesses in the past week, residents, employees, or recent visitors to Brookdale Vernon Hills still are being urged to seek care from their health-care provider if they are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms.

Because of its vague symptoms – it often seems like flu or pneumonia at the outset – the disease often is overlooked or undiagnosed, leading to the condition being underreported, according to the CDC.

For the disease to be classified correctly, specific testing and diagnosis must be done from a Legionnaires’ disease standpoint, and those tests often are not ordered. (It’s not required for physicians to order Legionella-specific testing when a patient presents with pneumonia.)

Initial symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath, also called dyspnea
  • chest pains, also called pleurisy or pleuritis
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart. Untreated, Legionnaires’ disease usually worsens during the first week, which is why early diagnosis is key to recovery.

Lake County outbreak: LD on the rise

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the number of Legionnaires’ disease cases in the state has increased yearly since 2010 (except for 2014. Deaths attributed to the disease also have increased every year during that same period (except for 2016):

  • 2010: 149 confirmed cases and 9 deaths
  • 2011: 151 cases, 10 deaths
  • 2012: 226 cases, 15 deaths
  • 2013: 299 cases, 23 deaths
  • 2014: 251 cases, 27 deaths
  • 2015: 315 cases, 34 deaths
  • 2016: 318 cases, 25 deaths
  • 2017: 332 cases, 29 deaths
  • 2018: 510 cases, 41 deaths
  • 2019: 612 cases, 43 deaths (Note: Data is provisional as of Feb. 24, 2020, and subject to change.)

Thus far in 2020, there have been 27 LD cases and two deaths reported statewide.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in this Brookdale Vernon Hills outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Brookdale Vernon Hills senior living community center in suburban Chicago has increased after two new cases were identified.

Brookdale Vernon Hills is the sixth senior facility in Illinois being investigated for a legionellosis outbreak since the start of the year.

Five Brookdale Vernon Hills residents have been infected with bacterial pneumonia since the outbreak was first reported Feb. 3, when it was reported that a 92-year-old male had died, according to the Lake County Health Department (LCHD).

No additional information has been released on the remaining individuals who are or were sickened, so their current condition, ages, or genders are unknown.

Brookdale Vernon Hills is located at 145 North Milwaukee Avenue in north suburban Vernon Hills, about 37 miles north of the Chicago Loop.

Brookdale Vernon Hills: actions taken

Officials at the Brookdale Vernon Hills facility quickly responded by taking the following preventative measures:

  • Water features have been shut off.
  • The pool and spa have been closed.
  • Shower heads have been cleaned throughout the facility.
  • Point-of-use filters have been added wherever possible.

“We continue to follow the recommendations of a national water-treatment company regarding flushing water lines, cleaning shower heads, and adding point-of-use filters,” Mitch Kline, the senior public relations specialist for Tennessee-based Brookdale Senior Living, stated in an email.

“Our associates have been trained in the correct protocols to minimize the chance of exposure to the Legionella bacteria and to monitor residents for signs and symptoms of illness.”

Brookdale Senior Living is working with the LCHD and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), trying to locate the possible source(s) of the outbreak.

Brookdale Vernon Hills: LD symptoms

If you are a resident of,  an employee of, or a recent visitor to Brookdale Vernon Hills and are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms, you should seek care from your health-care provider immediately. Symptoms often can be mistaken for those of the common flu.

The disease often is overlooked or undiagnosed, leading to the condition being underreported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For the disease to be classified correctly, specific testing and diagnosis must be done from a Legionnaires’ disease standpoint, and those tests often are not ordered. (It’s not required for physicians to order Legionella-specific testing when a patient presents with pneumonia.)

Initial symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath, also called dyspnea
  • chest pains, also called pleurisy or pleuritis
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart. Untreated Legionnaires’ disease usually worsens during the first week, which is why early diagnosis is key to recovery.

Brookdale Vernon Hills: possible sources

“The way people get exposed to (Legionella) is it’s in the water,” Mike Adam, deputy director of environmental health for the LCHD, told the Chicago Tribune. “But it’s aerosolized, so it somehow gets up in the air and people breathe it in.

“While the disease isn’t uncommon, it can be dangerous and potentially fatal for (senior citizens). But on the other hand, residents at the Vernon Hills senior center rarely leave the facility, so it can help officials identify the source easier.”

Adam said county officials are awaiting test results that can help them better determine the source.

Legionnaires’ disease – which is also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a respiratory illness that is contracted when people inhale microscopic, aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist) that are spread by showers, faucets, swimming pools, hot tubs, or decorative fountains, to name just a few.

Legionella bacteria thrive in warm water and are found primarily in human-made environments. Other potential breeding grounds include:

  • water systems of large buildings (nursing homes, hospitals, hotels, etc.)
  • large plumbing systems
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers.
Brookdale Vernon Hills: Illinois woes

Other senior facilities to report a LD issue to the IDPH in 2020 include the following:

  • Jan. 27: Two residents at Lakewood Nursing in Plainfield were sickened.
  • Jan. 18: The Covenant Living at Windsor Park retirement home in Carol Stream reported that two residents died, and a third was sickened, in the past eight months.
  • Jan. 16: Meadowbrook Manor in Bolingbrook confirmed one illness.
  • Jan. 10: Two residents at Balmoral Nursing Home and one resident at The Admiral at the Lake were diagnosed with the respiratory illness.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member have been sickened by Legionnaires’ disease, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


A women’s work prison in Florida’s Sumter County is dealing with a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak of 23 confirmed cases after five more cases were announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

The outbreak is the largest ever at a BOP facility.

Prison officials at Coleman Correctional Complex – the largest women’s prison in the country – said they are working with the Florida Department of Health (FDOH)  to locate the source of the Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Coleman’s satellite camp is a minimum-security facility that houses 409 inmates.

“In conducting this investigation, the health and safety of staff, inmates and the public are the Bureau of Prisons’ highest priority,” according to a news release from the BOP. “The BOP uses a comprehensive approach to managing infectious diseases in federal prisons that includes testing, appropriate treatment, prevention, education, and infection control measures. Staff and inmates have been notified about this situation, and … Coleman staff are prepared to take any additional steps as needed.”

Florida prison outbreak: FDOH mum so far

A BOP spokesperson told the Miami Herald that the prison is working with FDOH officials on a plan to monitor for new cases, manage current ones and take “necessary precautionary measures.”

FDOH officials, however, won’t discuss what the department’s role is, how it is helping, or even whether it considers the prisoners at the facility to be part of the population it serves.

“If this was happening at a local hospital, they’d probably have a little bit more to say,” said David Krause, the state toxicologist at the FDOH from 2008-11.

Florida prison outbreak: oversight needed

In 2015, San Quentin State Prison in California recorded 13 cases of Legionnaires’ disease and more than 80 cases of pneumonia. The source of that outbreak was contaminated cooling towers in a health services building.

Hospitals and nursing homes are required to bolster oversight of building water systems and medical equipment that could expose patients to harmful Legionella. There is, however, little regulatory oversight of other large, non-medical buildings, such as prisons.

“There aren’t a lot of people checking up on a hotel, a condominium or a large building,” said Elliot Olsen, one of the few lawyers in the U.S. who can call LD an area of specialty. “I am not aware of any oversight really at any level.”

Florida prison outbreak: more to come?

There is concern that the outbreak could grow, since the bacteria still could be circulating in the complex. It’s a confined, densely populated environment, a situation that officials called “troubling.”

Both inmates and prison staff have been notified about the outbreak, and staff members are prepared to take additional steps as needed, according to the news release.

“The (FDOH) should be able to look at the epidemiological data and tell if it’s associated with a single water heater source or whether it’s a cooling tower outside the building that’s affecting the whole prison,” Krause said.

BOP officials said two recirculating pumps and point-of-use filters for shower heads and sink faucets were installed, but they did not say whether cooling towers were on site.

Florida prison outbreak: possible sources

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States every year, but because of the disease’s vague symptoms, only 5,000 cases are reported.

Legionella is contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • water systems of large buildings
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • swimming pools, whirlpools, hot tubs
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.
Florida prison outbreak: symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease generally develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella. It frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, other symptoms develop, including:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • chest pains (pleurisy)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and in other parts of the body, including the heart.

Florida prison outbreak: woes aplenty

As if the Legionnaires’ outbreak wasn’t enough, one case of scabies (a skin infestation caused by mites) also was confirmed. Prison officials already were reeling from allegations of rampant sexual abuse and retaliation at the prison.

The Central Florida prison is where former Congresswoman Corrine Brown is serving her sentence on 18 felony convictions, including fraud and tax crimes. She was convicted in 2017 and is scheduled for release in late 2023.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in this Vernon Hills outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Illinois senior living facilities continue to struggle with Legionnaires’ disease as Brookdale Vernon Hills became the sixth to report an outbreak in 2020.

Health officials confirmed that one person has died and two others were sickened by the pneumonia-like respiratory illness. The Lake County retirement community is located in Vernon Hills, which is about 35 miles north of the Chicago Loop along Interstate Highway 94.

Lake County Health Department executive director Mark Pfister acknowledged his office received reports of three cases of Legionnaires’ disease at Brookdale Vernon Hills.

The LCHD is “working with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Brookdale staff to investigate potential sources of contamination and to identify individuals who may have been exposed to Legionella bacteria,” Pfister said.

Dr. Sana Ahmed, LCHD epidemiologist, said: “We urge any residents and visitors of the Brookdale facility who are currently experiencing pneumonia symptoms – cough, shortness of breath, headache, muscle aches, and fever – to see a doctor right away for testing. Early treatment of Legionnaires’ disease reduces the severity of the illness and improves your chances for recovery.”

Vernon Hills outbreak: ‘unresponsive’

Bernard Stewart, 92, was identified by his daughters Tamara Stewart and Sue Franz as the resident who passed away.

“They found him on the floor of his apartment totally unresponsive,” Tamara Stewart told Chicago’s WGN-TV.

Bernard Stewart was rushed to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where physicians initially thought he was suffering from pneumonia.

“They didn’t know what it was until, I think, Sunday when he passed away,” Franz said.

Lab results confirmed that he was infected with Legionnaires’ disease.

Vernon Hills outbreak: symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, other symptoms develop, including:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one out of every 10 people (10 percent) infected with Legionnaires’ disease will die due to complications from the illness.

Vernon Hills outbreak: most at risk

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the greatest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.

When Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed in a senior citizen, hospitalization is always required.

Vernon Hills outbreak: large corporation

Brookdale Senior Living has 750 senior living communities in 45 states, including 14 in Illinois. Brookdale Vernon Hills is located at 145 North Milwaukee Avenue. None of the other Illinois facilities are affected by this outbreak.

The senior living community notified residents, the residents’ contacts, and staff about the outbreak.

A source of the Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, has yet to be identified, a Brookdale Senior Living spokesperson said. She confirmed the company has closed the building’s pool and spa and turned off all drinking fountains. Workers have flushed water lines, cleaned showerheads, and added water filters in the facility.

Vernon Hills outbreak: possible sources

“We are looking at water features within the facility that harbor Legionella bacteria,” LCHD deputy director Michael Adam said. “When it gets into these water systems, it likes warm water and areas where water is stagnant, so we look at the entire distribution system.”

A person contracts Legionella bacteria by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • water systems of large buildings (nursing homes, hospitals, hotels, etc.)
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • swimming pools
  • whirlpools and hot tubs
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.
Vernon Hills outbreak: growing list

Brookdale Vernon Hills became the sixth senior facility in Illinois in the first 34 days of 2020 to report a Legionnaires issue to the IDPH:

  • Jan. 27: Lakewood Nursing in Plainfield confirmed an outbreak of two residents.
  • Jan. 18: Covenant Living at Windsor Park retirement home in Carol Stream reported a deadly outbreak as two residents died, and a third was sickened at the DuPage County facility in the past eight months.
  • Jan. 16: Meadowbrook Manor in Bolingbrook confirmed a single case of the illness.
  • Jan. 10: Two residents at Balmoral Nursing Home and one resident at The Admiral at the Lake were diagnosed with the respiratory illness.

According to data from the IDPH, 608 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported statewide in 2019.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened by a state fair hot tub display, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released its final report on last fall’s Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in which four people died and more than 130 others sickened, identifying the most likely cause as a hot tub display at the Mountain State Fair.

Stated the report: “This outbreak most likely resulted from exposure to Legionella bacteria in aerosolized water from hot tubs on display at the fair,” which was held Sept. 6-15 at the Western North Carolina Agriculture Center in Fletcher.

Legionella bacteria were likely present in one or more of the hot tubs from the beginning of the fair and amplified over the course of the fair leading to more exposures as time went on.”

Legionnaires’ disease – which is also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a respiratory illness that is contracted when people inhale microscopic aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist), such as those formed by hot tubs, misting stations, showers or large air conditioners.

Hot tub display: officials puzzled

Hot tubs were on display at the Mountain State Fair in the Davis Event Center, but the report concluded it could not determine how the bacteria “were introduced into the hot tubs.”

Hot tubs have been identified as the source in other Legionnaires outbreaks around the world.

“We don’t know how Legionella came to be in the hot tubs initially,” said Dr. Zack Moore, state epidemiologist. “But what appears to have happened is that there was a small amount present either from the water that was used to fill it or from other equipment that was used.”

Properly maintaining equipment that aerosolizes water, including hot tubs, is of the utmost importance, according to the report. Legionella can contaminate hot tubs when they are not cleaned or disinfected enough.

The high water temperatures in hot tubs make it challenging to maintain disinfectant levels needed to kill germs like Legionella. Making sure hot tubs have the right disinfectant (such as chlorine), and pH levels are essential, which is why consistent monitoring is required.

Hot tub display: CDC response

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Health Advisory in response to the North Carolina outbreak. The CDC developed and distributed guidance for vendors and public health practitioners on how to minimize risks at temporary events (such as fairs, home and garden shows, and conventions) from hot tubs and other display equipment that aerosolizes water.

The outbreak was first identified on Sept. 23, eight days after the Mountain State Fair had concluded. State and local public health departments launched an investigation with the CDC and assistance from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“We were able to quickly rule out any significant ongoing exposures at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center and provide early investigation findings to the public in less than two weeks,” Moore said.

Hot tub display: East Texas State Fair

A similar outbreak last September, albeit on a much smaller scale, occurred at the East Texas State Fair, although health officials have not identified a source. The water system and hot tub display are possible sources in the outbreak, in which one person died and seven others sickened.

Susan Gutierrez lost her husband, Ruben, 69, who died after being hospitalized for most of last October. Ruben Gutierrez was at the East Texas State Fair almost every day of the Sept. 20-29 event at Harvey Hall in Tyler.

“The disease is highly preventable,” Elliot Olsen, who has been retained by Mrs. Gutierrez, told KLTV-TV of Tyler. “If someone is keeping a close eye on the water supply, the disease can be prevented. It’s all about stopping the bacteria from proliferating. So I think that’s the biggest message: This is highly preventable.”

Olsen said his first steps would be looking through data from the Northeast Texas Public Health District (NET Health). At some point, he’ll bring in his own epidemiologist.

“What I’d be looking to do for the family is regain money to compensate them for the loss of emotional support and companionship given to them by Mr. Gutierrez,” Olsen said.

According to Olsen, at least one other person who contracted the disease and visited the fair has contacted him.

Hot tub display: Legionella found

Phigenics Analytical Services Laboratory in Fayetteville, Arkansas, released a preliminary testing report showing no Legionella bacteria was found in water samples taken from Harvey Hall.

Dead Legionella bacteria, however, was found in water collected from two kitchen sinks in the building. The report indicated the number of viable bacteria found on the two sinks was below the levels recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). (Note: Non-viable Legionella is bacteria that will not grow and is considered dead.)

East Texas Water Quality, under the oversight of ERI Consulting, Inc., a Tyler environmental engineering firm hired by the city, manually disinfected the water fixtures at Harvey Hall. “We flushed the system, disinfected the system and the fixtures, and we are controlling the hot water in the building by turning it off,” said Larry Snodgrass, ERI Consulting president.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were affected by this Plainfield outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Illinois health officials are investigating a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a senior home in Plainfield – already the fifth Legionnaires incident in the state this month, all affecting residents of retirement homes.

Two residents at Lakewood Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center were confirmed with the pneumonia-like illness, prompting an investigation by both the Will County Health Department (WCHD) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Legionnaires’ disease – which is also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a respiratory illness that is contracted when people inhale microscopic aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist) contaminated with Legionella.

No potential Legionella sources outside the facility have been identified, and the investigation is focusing on Lakewood Nursing (14716 South Eastern Avenue).

Plainfield outbreak: IDPH recommendations

IDPH recommended that Lakewood Nursing conduct surveillance to identify other potential cases. They also suggested that the facility review its water-management plan, and take necessary steps to reduce exposure to aerosolized water, which could include restricting water use, installing point of use filters, flushing water through pipes and fixtures, and implementing other protective measures.

“Although it is not clear that these environmental risks have come from Lakewood Nursing, as a safety precaution, we have implemented our water management program and environmental risk protocol,” Ron Nunziato, CEO of Extended Care, consultants to Lakewood Nursing, said in a statement. “In addition, this facility has been working with the County and State Departments for guidance, and a water specialist, for any assistance they may provide.”

A 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that “75 percent of (Legionnaires’ disease) acquired in health-care settings could be prevented with better water management.”

Plainfield outbreak: issues mounting

Lakewood Nursing is the second Will County senior facility in less than two weeks to deal with a Legionnaires problem. A single case of the disease was confirmed in a resident at Meadowbrook Manor in Bolingbrook. Meadowbrook Manor (431 Remington Boulevard) is less than 10 miles southwest of Lakewood Nursing.

Last week, it was learned that a deadly outbreak struck the Covenant Living at Windsor Park retirement home in Carol Stream. Two residents died, and a third was sickened at the DuPage County facility in the past eight months.

Earlier in the month, two residents at Balmoral Nursing Home and one resident at The Admiral at the Lake were diagnosed with the respiratory illness. The two North Side nursing homes are less than 2 miles apart in Chicago. It’s still unknown what caused those illnesses.

Plainfield outbreak: disease on the rise

Legionnaires is “an emerging disease in the sense that the number of recorded cases of Legionnaires in the United States continues to increase,” Laura Cooley of the CDC’s Respiratory Diseases Branch said in a 2017 interview.

Cooley said she believes the increase is due to the rise in the susceptibility of the population, with more and more people on immunosuppressive medications. She also said there could be more Legionella in the environment because warmer temperatures create the right conditions for bacterial growth.

Last year was the second-hottest in the 140 years that temperatures have been recorded, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. No. 1 on the list is 2016.

As a matter of fact, the world’s five warmest years all have occurred since 2015, and nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005.

Plainfield outbreak: increased risk for seniors

Senior living facilities are common locations for outbreaks because of the following:

  • They house at-risk populations.
  • They often have large, elaborate water and plumbing systems, common delivery systems for Legionella.
  • Residents have limited or no exposure to outside sources of the bacteria.

In addition, most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 years old and older – especially those who smoke or have chronic lung conditions – are at a higher risk.

Other people more susceptible to infection include:

  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

This list also includes anyone with an immune system weakened by:

  • frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, 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 cramping, appetite loss, diarrhea, and nausea
  • delayed growth and development.

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe Legionnaires cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were affected by this Carol Stream outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Two Carol Stream retirement home residents have died, and a third was sickened, in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak being investigated by Illinois health officials.

Officials for the Covenant Living at Windsor Park retirement home did not release any other information on the three victims, who were sickened in the past eight months.

“Two residents of Windsor Park have died from a combination of Legionnaires’ disease and other underlying conditions,” Don Bolger, DuPage County Health Department’s public information officer, told the Daily Herald.

Carol Stream is a village of about 40,000 people in DuPage County, 34 miles west of the Chicago Loop.

Carol Stream outbreak: 2nd for Covenant Living

Windsor Park is the second Covenant Living facility in less than a year to report a Legionnaires outbreak. Last October, 15 cases were recorded in Batavia by the Kane County Health Department: 13 at Covenant Living at the Holmstad, and two in residents in the neighboring community. A source for that outbreak was not identified.

Covenant Living has 16 communities in nine states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Washington. Along with the Batavia and Carol Stream locations in Illinois, Covenant Living also has facilities in Chicago, Geneva, and Northbrook.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and DCHD are working with Windsor Park officials to examine the facility and see if the source of the Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, can be located. State officials will test the facility’s water.

Carol Stream outbreak: Illinois woes

This is already the fourth Legionnaires’ disease incident for the state of Illinois in 2020 – the only reported incidents in the U.S. so far this year.

Last week, a single case of the pneumonia-like illness was diagnosed in a resident of Meadowbrook Manor, a senior home in Bolingbrook. The Will County Health Department and the IDPH are investigating.

Earlier in the month, two residents at Balmoral Nursing Home and one resident at The Admiral at the Lake were diagnosed with the respiratory illness. The two North Side nursing homes are less than 2 miles apart in Chicago. It’s still unknown what caused those illnesses.

Carol Stream outbreak: possible sources

Legionnaires’ disease – which is also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a respiratory illness that is contracted when people inhale microscopic, aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist) that are spread by showers, faucets, swimming pools, hot tubs, or decorative fountains, to name just a few.

Legionella bacteria thrive in warm water and are found primarily in human-made environments. Other potential breeding grounds, along with the above examples, include:

  • water systems of large buildings (nursing homes, hospitals, hotels, etc.)
  • large plumbing systems
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers.

According to DuPage County officials, Windsor Park is “implementing multiple control measures,” including flushing the plumbing system. Officials also are trying to identify other potential Legionnaires cases, based on IDPH recommendations.

Covenant Living officials have contacted residents, resident’s families, and staff regarding the situation.

Carol Stream outbreak: disease symptoms

If you are a resident of,  an employee of, or are a recent visitor to the Covenant Living at Windsor Park and are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms, you should seek care from your health-care provider. Symptoms often can be mistaken for the common flu.

Even if you’ve already recovered, and were not diagnosed with legionellosis, informing your physician that you spent time at the retirement community since last May is recommended, now that the outbreak has been identified.

The disease often is overlooked or undiagnosed, leading to the condition being underreported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For the disease to be classified correctly, specific testing and diagnosis must be done from a Legionnaires’ disease standpoint, and those tests are often not ordered. It’s not required for physicians to order Legionella-specific testing when a patient presents with pneumonia.

Initial symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath, also called dyspnea
  • chest pains, also called pleurisy or pleuritis
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart. Untreated Legionnaires’ disease usually worsens during the first week, which is why early diagnosis is key to recovery.

Carol Stream outbreak: high-risk groups

A 2015 study by the CDC stated that “75 percent of (Legionnaires’ disease) acquired in health-care settings could be prevented with better water management.”

Most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 years old and older – especially those who smoke or have chronic lung conditions – are at a much higher risk.

Other people more susceptible to infection include:

  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

This list also includes anyone with an immune system weakened by:

  • frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, 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 cramping, appetite loss, diarrhea, and nausea
  • delayed growth and development.

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in a Chicago outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Public health officials in Chicago are investigating the New Year’s first Legionnaires’ disease cases at not one but two North Side nursing homes.

Chicago outbreak: Two nursing homes, three sickened

Two residents at Balmoral Nursing Home (2055 West Balmoral) and one resident at The Admiral at the Lake (929 West Foster) were diagnosed with the pneumonia-like respiratory illness. The two facilities are less than two miles apart, but a news release from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) stated that the cases “do not appear to be related.”

Legionnaires’ disease – which is also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is contracted when people inhale microscopic aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist), such as those formed by showers, hot tubs, misting stations or large air conditioners.

Chicago outbreak: tests performed

The IDPH, which sent investigators to both facilities and conducted water testing, is working on the investigation with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Chicago Department of Water Management. The agencies are trying to determine whether the three victims were sickened at their respective nursing homes or elsewhere.

Results from the IDPH’s water samples are expected before the end of the month.

December testing by Balmoral’s water consultants was negative for Legionella, the bacteria that causes LD.

“The facility is conducting water treatment and testing,” Balmoral administrator Meir Stern wrote in a statement. “The facility’s water has consistently tested negative for Legionella.”

Mark Dubovick, health services administrator for The Admiral at the Lake, released a similar statement: “We are taking precautionary steps as recommended by the Chicago Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Public Health, and our water management consultant, Garratt Callahan. We are also following additional steps outlined in our Water Management Plan.”

The Admiral at the Lake resident who was sickened is receiving care at a local hospital. The condition of the two Balmoral residents was not released.

Chicago outbreak: symptoms

If you are a resident, an employee of, or are a recent visitor to the Balmoral Nursing Home or The Admiral at the Lake and are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms, you should seek care from your health-care provider. Symptoms often can be mistaken for the common flu, and they usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella.

Initial symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • chest pains (pleurisy or pleuritis)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.
Chicago outbreak: high-risk groups

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart. Untreated, Legionnaires’ disease usually worsens during the first week, which is why early diagnosis is key to recovery.

A 2015 study by the CDC stated that “75 percent of (Legionnaires’ disease) acquired in health-care settings could be prevented with better water management.”

Most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 years old and older – especially those who smoke or have chronic lung conditions – are at a much higher risk.

Other people more susceptible to infection include:

  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

This list also includes anyone with an immune system weakened by:

  • frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, 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 cramping, appetite loss, diarrhea, and nausea
  • delayed growth and development.

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Chicago outbreak: busy 2019 for city

There were numerous outbreaks in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs in 2019: