Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
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Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease, and he has regained millions of dollars for them. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease in McHenry County or at Warren Barr, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

For the third time this year, a Legionnaires’ disease cluster has hit McHenry County after three cases of the respiratory illness were confirmed in residents at a senior living community, according to an Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) news release. A third case of the disease also was just added to the count for Warren Barr South Loop nursing home in Chicago.

While all three cases of the McHenry County cluster are linked to residents at McHenry Villa Senior Living (3516 Waukegan Road in the city of McHenry), health officials are investigating whether the facility is the source of the illnesses. All three patients also had potential outside exposures.

Two of those potential exposures were at Centegra Hospital-McHenry, part of Northwestern Medicine.

“Within the last month, we completed a routine water test at our McHenry Hospital, and the results showed there was no Legionella pneumophila in the water,” according to a statement by Michelle Green, Northwestern Medicine’s media relations manager. “We do not believe our hospital was the site for this exposure.”

Second issue for McHenry Villa
In September, the McHenry Villa flooded after a water pipe burst, causing the 100-plus residents to be temporarily moved for a month. McHenry Villa’s executive director, Noreen Zaio, said it is unknown if the flooding had anything to do with the cluster of Legionnaires cases.

“The health and safety of our residents and staff is our number one priority, and our staff will continue to ensure our residents receive uninterrupted service,” Zaio was quoted in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the department of health to support its efforts and follow all the recommended guidelines and procedures to minimize exposure for residents, visitors, and staff.”

Zaio confirmed that McHenry Villa is notifying all residents and staff, in addition to following all health-department recommendations, to minimize exposure.

Watch for symptoms
If you are a resident or employee of McHenry Villa or have visited the facility and are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should see your health-care provider out of an abundance of caution.

  • people 50 years of age or older
  • smokers, both current and former
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with compromised immune systems
  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one).

Three times not a charm for McHenry
The first cluster of the year in McHenry County affected 12 people in June and July. Six of the 12 individuals were believed to have been sickened within a 1½-mile radius of the intersection of Route 176 and Walkup Road in Crystal Lake, but the source never was identified.

Three people were infected during the second outbreak in October. The source of that outbreak was believed to be the Johnsburg SuperCenter Walmart.

There were four cases of Legionnaires’ disease in McHenry County in 2017, nine in 2016, and three in 2015.

The county is located in northern Illinois, and its northern-most border lies on the Wisconsin state line. According to the 2010 census, it had a population of 308,760, making it the sixth-most populous county in Illinois.

Warren Barr outbreak hits three
Health officials believe the latest patient sickened at the Warren Barr South Loop transitional rehabilitation center was exposed to Legionella bacteria before the facility switched to bottled water while environmental assessments were being performed.

This outbreak is not the first time Warren Barr has had to deal with Legionella issues. In July 2015, a resident at Warren Barr Gold Coast died from Legionnaires’ disease. (The Gold Coast rehab center is located approximately 4 miles from the South Loop facility.) A source was never found for the Legionella that caused that individual’s death.

More than 300 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported in Illinois each year, according to the IDPH. There were 332 cases confirmed in 2017, and 318 in 2016.

More Legionnaires info

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia (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 U.S. annually. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of its nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Where do Legionella live?
The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments. Outbreaks have been linked to a number of sources, such as:

  • large plumbing systems
  • showers and faucets
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • decorative fountains
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • water systems, such as those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • the cooling towers of air conditioning systems.