MCHENRY COUNTY, IL – The McHenry County Department of Health has identified a "potential source of common exposure" for six of the 12 individuals who have had legionnaires' disease in the region over the past few weeks. The "source" is within a 1.5 mile radius from the intersection of Walkup Road and Route 176 at Crystal Lake, health officials said Friday. An exact location, such as a particular body of water that all those who have fallen ill could not have detected, was not found, said Keri Zaleski, an information officer from the Department of Health of McHenry County.
The local health department has collaborated with this The Illinois Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control have been conducting interviews and environmental audits in recent weeks to identify a possible link between the cases.
"Many environmental samples have been collected, but it is often the case that a single source is never found, which is not surprising or unusual, considering that legionella are widely distributed in our natural environment," said Joe Gugle. Acting Health Department Administrator.
In total, 1
The patients are between 46 and 82 years old. They lived in Union, Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Huntley, and Wonder Lake, and were diagnosed with an illness between June 7 and July 1. According to the press release released on Friday, no new case has been reported since 1 July.
"This year, McHenry County has seen an increase in cases of Legionnaires' disease, and this year's rise is also being observed in our region and the state, along with a national increase over the last decade," said Susan Karras, MCDH Director of Nurses. "Most people who are exposed to Legionella bacteria will not get sick, but they can cause serious illness, especially in people with risk factors."
More commonly seen in hot weather, Legionnaire's disease, which causes symptoms similar to pneumonia, is caused by Legionella. This infection poses the greatest risk to people who are 50 years or older and those who have certain risk factors, such as a current or past smoker, a chronic illness, or a weakened immune system, states a press release.
Symptoms usually begin two to ten days after exposure and may include cough, muscle aches, fever, shortness of breath and headache. According to a press release, diarrhea and mental confusion are common.
You may become ill if you inhale a mist or small droplets of Legionella water. Legionella bacteria naturally occur in freshwater environments such as lakes and streams. They can become health problems when found in water systems of buildings such as shower water, whirlpools, cooling towers, decorative fountains and hot water tanks.
Home and car air conditioners do not use water to cool the air and are generally not believed to present a risk of legionella growth. Legionella bacteria do not spread from person to person, except in rare cases, according to the press release.
MCDH is working closely with IDPH and the CDC to further investigate the local cases of Legionnaire's disease. Results from environmental studies will not be available for about six weeks.
"It's like finding a needle in a haystack," Zaleski said as he referred to health officials looking for a source of the disease. "There are many different sources for legionaries."
Zaleski said that anyone who has symptoms should consult their doctor.
For more information, visit the CDC website.
MORE ABOUT PATCH
Photo of Shutterstock