Legionnaires' disease: The Facts - FOX 32 News Chicago

Legionnaires' disease: The Facts

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The JW Marriott hotel downtown received a lot of attention after a recent outbreak of Legionnaires' disease on Tuesday.

The source of the disease has been identified and there is no longer a health risk at the hotel, but questions about the disease still remain.

About 30 cases of the disease are reported per year in Chicago, though many infections are not reported. "It's not always the easiest disease to diagnose and doctors may not have it at the top of their list," Dr. Kathy Ritger, Medical Director over communicable disease at the Chicago Department of Public Health says.

About Legionnaires' disease: Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by inhaling contaminated water vapor, caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella.

Symptoms: Legionnaires' disease can have similar symptoms to pneumonia, which makes it difficult to diagnose. Indications can include: chills, high fever, cough, muscle aches, and headaches. To find the pneumonia caused by the bacteria, other tests like chest x-rays, urine or blood, need to be performed.

Treatment: The disease can be very serious if not treated with antibiotics. In 5-30% of cases, it can result in death. Antibiotics are used to fight the infection, and healthy people usually recover.

Contracting Legionnaire's: The bacteria is not spread from one person to another, rather, it's contracted from breathing in a mist contaminated with the vapor. A few examples might be from breathing in contaminated whirlpool spas, air conditioning units, and drinking/bathing water.

If you have questions about potential exposure, you can call (312)746-4835, Monday-Friday from 8:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m., CDT.

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