2 cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported at Chicago hospital

CHICAGO — The Illinois Department of Public Health is investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The patients in question said the received care at other facilities recently. Investigators haven’t named the facilities, so it's not clear yet where exactly the patients contracted the disease.

Legionella bacteria occur naturally in the environment and can become airborne through air conditioning units, showers, hot tubs and fountains. The bacteria can cause pneumonia when inhaled. Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious.

The Chicago Department of Public Health is assisting with the investigation. The agency tested the hospital’s water this week, but has not yet released those results.

The University of Chicago Medical Center, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., said it's conducting surveillance and checking other patients.

In a statement, the hospital said: “The University of Chicago Medical Center has a comprehensive water management program that follows the highest federal standards. Testing of hospital water has shown no evidence of legionella growth. We are confident all our patients are safe.”

This is the second Chicago hospital in as many weeks to report cases of Legionnaires’ disease. Two patients at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., tested positive last Friday. Health officials said those patients were possibly exposed through the hospital’s water system.

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