Illinois County Reports 2 Legionnaires' Cases from Hotel Hot Tub

The McHenry County Department of Health in Woodstock, Ill., a small city northwest of Chicago, near the Wisconsin border, reported Friday that two people -- one local, the other from Michigan -- have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease after staying at a Hampton Inn in the county. "Initial information would suggest the illness may be associated with using or sitting by a hot tub at this facility on the same day. Both were hospitalized; one has since been released," the department said in a notice posted on its Web site. The department also said how many people stayed at the hotel and used the hot tub from May 9 to June 4 has not been determined; MCDH has activated its hotline (815-334-2800) for residents to call today and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Information is being provided at www.mcdh.info.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, which licenses and inspects the hotel's pool and hot tub, is leading the investigation and has closed both the pool and hot tub area. MCDH said the hotel is cooperating fully in the investigation.

Its site offers Legionnaires' disease information and resources. The disease is caused by a type of bacteria common in the environment that can thrive under certain conditions; people can get Legionnaires' by breathing in a mist or vapor, such as from a hot tub or large plumbing systems that has been contaminated with the bacteria. It is not spread person-to-person. McHenry County typically sees one or two cases of Legionnaires' every year, the department said. Symptoms are similar to pneumonia and typically begin 2 to 14 days after exposure and include high fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, and headaches. Legionnaires' can cause death in 5-30 percent of cases; those most at risk include people older than 65, smokers, or with chronic lung disease. Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

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