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State health department investigating Legionnaires’ disease cluster in Burbank; 4 cases linked to area church

A cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases has been reported in a southwest suburb, with multiple cases linking back to an area church, public health officials said Friday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is working with the Stickney Public Health District to investigate the cluster of cases reported between June and August in Burbank.

Four cases were linked to St. Albert the Great Church — three epidemiologicallyand one geographically, the health department said in a statement issued Friday.

Laboratory tests revealed the presence oflegionella, the bacteria which causes Legionnaires’ disease,in the church’s cooling tower, according to the health department.

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious lung infection that people can get by breathing in small droplets of water containing Legionella bacteria, IDPH said.

“As the epidemiological and environmental investigation of this Legionnaires’ disease cluster continues, it is important to release this information to ensure that anyone with risk factors who feels symptoms is aware and seeks evaluation and treatment,” said Dr. Sameer Vohra, director of the health department.

Legionnaires’ disease often begins with a high fever, between 102 and 105 degrees chills, muscle aches, cough and shortness of breath, Vohra said.

The symptoms usually develop up to two weeks after exposure, according to Vohra.

Most healthy people will not become sick after exposure to Legionella bacteria but there is an increased risk for people over 50-years-old or those with certain risk factors, such as current or former smokers, according to the state health department.

Last year, Illinois reported 522 cases of Legionnaires’ disease statewide. So far in 2022, 277 cases have been reported.

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