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Nearly 50 cases of Legionnaires’ Disease were reported in Chicago this July, resulting in 2 deaths: Officials – NBC Chicago

The Chicago Department of Health is investigating after 49 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported in Chicago since July 1, in which 15 people were hospitalized and two were killed.

The number of cases this month has roughly tripled compared to the last two years, with 16 cases reported in 2020 and 13 in 2019, according to the CDPH.

“This is a reminder to keep your water systems flushed and clean. People with risk factors should seek early treatment if they develop symptoms, and clinicians should perform appropriate tests and treat empirically, ”said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by Legionella bacteria that live in freshwater, health officials noted. People can get the disease if they inhale droplets of water that contain the bacteria.

Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, muscle pain, and headache, according to the CDPH. Officials said most healthy people who are exposed to the bacteria don’t get sick.

However, people over the age of 50, as well as smokers, people with lung diseases or weakened immune systems, are at increased risk for Legionnaires’ disease, added CDPH.

Legionnaires’ disease can develop in water systems during “prolonged building closures or restricted use,” as people saw in the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials said. Warm water, stagnation and low disinfectant concentrations can also support bacterial growth in bodies of water.

“People at high risk should see a doctor as soon as possible if they have unusual respiratory symptoms,” said CDPH.

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