Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
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Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires in Illinois, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

After being named as a possible source for a Legionnaires’ disease cluster that sickened three people in Illinois’ McHenry and Lake counties, Walmart officials announced that the Johnsburg SuperCenter would replace its sprinkler system.

“We take the situation seriously, and out of an abundance of caution are replacing our sprinkler system, which is specifically designed with nozzle sizes and no reservoirs to minimize and prevent exposure to this problem,” said Casey Stahell, Walmart’s senior manager of national media relations, in a statement. (The Johnsburg Walmart is located at 3801 Running Brook Farm Boulevard.)

The Legionella bacteria that was detected at the store wasn’t the same strain that caused the illnesses, Stahell learned from the Illinois Department of Public Health, but that doesn’t necessarily rule out the location as a possible source.

After Legionella bacteria grow and multiply in a building’s water system, water containing Legionella then can spread in droplets small enough to inhale, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People can become infected with Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever, a mild form of Legionnaires, when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain Legionella.

This is the second cluster to hit the area this year after 12 people were sickened in McHenry County in June. The McHenry County Department of Health identified an area within a 1.5-mile radius of the intersection of Walkup Road and Route 175 in Crystal Lake as the source for six of the 12 illnesses. No cause for the remaining six illnesses was identified.

Around the United States:
Illinois nursing home bacteria-free

The water supply at Good Samaritan Society – Prophets Riverview nursing home has been Legionella-free for a month, which is finally some positive news for the 50-year-old nursing home after it was hit with 20 cases of respiratory illness between mid-May and July, according to

“We were cleared of the bacteria and were able to turn the water back on Sept. 21,” Prophets Riverview administrator Benjamin Ornelas said.

Along with the 20 illnesses, nine of the home’s more than three dozen residents died over the same period, but it could not be determined whether any of the deaths were connected to the respiratory outbreak, according to Whiteside County Health Department administrator Beth Fiorini.

Eleven of the 14 water samples collected tested positive for low levels of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, but none of the home’s sick residents tested positive for the disease.

Prophets Riverview water system was flushed by Nalco, an environmental management company hired by Good Samaritan, with water heated to 160 to 170 degrees, then treated with high levels of chlorine to kill any remaining bacteria, based on recommendations of the health department and Nalco.

“All of our tests came back negative after we did the hyper-chlorination treatment,” Ornelas said. “We’ve been following the recommendations, such as flushing the water system, lower water temperatures and keeping our ice machines clean.”

Legionella thrive in 80- to 120-degree temperatures, and now “we’re keeping our water at 75 degrees,” Ornelas said.

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (generally, mist or vapor). The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments.

Warm, stagnant water provides ideal conditions for growth, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). At temperatures between 68 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, the organism can multiply. Temperatures of 90 degrees to 105 degrees are ideal for growth.

Water sources that provide optimal conditions for the growth of infectious bacteria, according to OSHA, include:

  • cooling towers, evaporative condensers, and fluid coolers that use evaporation to reject heat; these include many industrial processes that use water to remove excess heat
  • domestic hot-water systems (including bathrooms, showers, and drinking fountains) with water heaters that operate below 140 degrees and deliver water to taps below 122 degrees
  • humidifiers and decorative fountains that create a water spray and use water at temperatures favorable to growth
  • spas and whirlpools, such as those in hotel pool areas
  • dental water lines, which are frequently maintained at temperatures above 68 degrees and sometimes as warm as 98.6 degrees for patient comfort
  • other sources, including stagnant water in fire sprinkler systems and warm water for eyewashes and safety showers.

Michigan EPA employee ill

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – the federal agency that has a mission is to protect human health and the environment – alerted employees at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, about a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease in its staff, according to the Federal News Network. Despite the diagnosis, officials advised employees to continue to report to work as they await test results.

Leila Cook, the associate director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) at the NVFEL, informed staff in an email that a facility employee was diagnosed with Legionella pneumonia.

“Although the source of the exposure is not known, it is possible that the exposure occurred at the NVFEL,” Cook wrote in the e-mail. “Environmental sampling has been conducted at the facility, however, results will not be available for several weeks.”

No information was released on the condition, gender or age of the employee infected.

Legionella in Morris Co. jail water

Legionella bacteria has been detected in the water system at New Jersey’s Morris County jail, making it the third county-owned building to test positive since July, according to county officials. The other locations were a health-care facility and a homeless shelter.

No one at the correctional facility, which houses 200 inmates, has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, according to county administrator John Bonanni. Testing was negative for Legionella at the county juvenile detention center and juvenile shelter.

The Southeast Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority supplies water to all of the buildings tested.

Jail officials said they will install new filtration systems in shower heads and remove aerators from some faucets to try and remediate the Legionella issue.