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State investigating 4 cases of Legionnaires’ at Christ Medical Center

The Illinois Department of Public Health says two of the cases were found among patients in the past two months.

A 69-year-old man died March 23, 2020, at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn from the coronavirus.
Advocate Christ Medical Center
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The Illinois Department of Public Health is investigating four cases of Legionnaires’ disease found among three patients and a staff member at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The department said the four cases have been discovered at the hospital since 2018, with two coming in the past two months. The investigation is currently limited to Christ Medical Center, according to a statement from the department.

This week, investigators with the IDPH visited the hospital to test the facility’s water and the hospital “is working with IDPH to strengthen its water management plan and implement multiple control measures.”

“Our top priority is to provide the safest and highest quality care for the patients and communities we serve, and we are working closely with the Illinois Department of Public Health on its review,” Christ Medical Center said in a statement Thursday. “Our facility is safe for our patients, visitors and team members.”

Legionella bacteria are transmitted through drops of water and can cause serious lung infections and possibly death. The bacteria mixes with the air in showers or fountains, and can cause illness when inhaled. The disease cannot be passed from person to person.

Incidents of Legionnaires’ disease have risen over 500% in the United States since 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease was discovered in 1976 during an outbreak at a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion.