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Bacteria in Chicago Causing Legionnaires’

Posted on October 16, 2012
by Wendy Stackhouse


Legionnaires’ Disease is in the news again, this time in Illinois.

We came across two stories in recent days about Legionnaires’ disease, both in the Chicago area, one in schools and one a seemingly lone case which has led to terrible consequences because of complications from this deadly bacteria.

In Batavia, Illinois, 3 schools–2 elementary and 1 high school–were found to be contaminated with Legionella bacteria. The schools were not closed, but the contaminated areas were blocked off, a girls’ locker room and restrooms.  The contamination was found because of a new testing program which attempts to find bacterial contamination before anyone becomes sick. So far no one has become ill with Legionnaires’ at these facilities, so it looks like they are indeed ahead of the game in Batavia.  Students were allowed back into the contaminated areas on Tuesday.

The other story is a sadder one. A banker in Chicago has lost both legs and one arm from complications arising from a case of Legionnaires’, the source of which is still unknown.

Kent Carson was diagnosed early with Legionnaires in August of this year, but his case went very badly, first causing him to suffer a stroke and then the necessity for medications which affected the circulation in his limbs.

Mr. Carson and his family are advocating for a more proactive approach to Legionella including requirements that buildings at high risk–like hotels, hospitals and casinos–be tested on a routine basis. Right now, testing only occurs when multiple victims have been reported and Mr. Carson’s single case has not triggered any testing of any building he visited. Isolated cases like Mr. Carson’s often remain a mystery.

The Legionella bacterium is found everywhere and can reproduce and spread easily in ventilation and water systems. The disease caused by this bacterium is spread by water vapor–like that found in showers, pools, hot tubs and air conditioners–and can affect large groups of people who use public facilities. The danger of Legionella is always present, but Legionnaires’ Disease is preventable by doing scheduled maintenance on HVAC and water systems.

AirTek is committed to preventing the spread of Legionnaires’ Disease and offers the services large commercial facilities need to keep them free of bacterial contamination. If your facility is not on a regular maintenance schedule to prevent Legionnaires’ Disease in California, contact AirTek for a consultation.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other environmental services. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more updates on indoor air challenges!

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