Champaign County health officials confirm 6 cases of Legionnaires' disease

Champaign County health officials confirm 6 cases of Legionnaires' disease

CHAMPAIGN — Public health officials have confirmed six cases of Legionnaires' disease in Champaign County.

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District announced Tuesday evening that six county residents have been diagnosed with the illness since Sept. 15.

Symptoms typically begin two to 10 days following exposure and may include diarrhea, muscle aches, vomiting, nausea, fever and chills. Shortness of breath, coughing, headaches, or mental confusion may also be common.

"Legionnaires' disease is not known to spread person-to-person," said Dr. Jennifer Layden, chief medical officer for the Illinois Department of Public Health. "Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires' disease after being exposed to Legionella bacteria. Individuals at increased risk of developing Legionnaire's disease include those older than 50, or who have certain risk factors, such as being a current or former smoker, having a chronic disease or having a weakened immune system."

The Legionella bacteria that caused the disease is commonly found in freshwater environments such as streams and lakes. A person may become sick by breathing in a mist or vapor contaminated with the bacteria.

It can become a health concern when it is found in water systems within structures, such as hot tubs, shower heads, hot-water tanks, fountains and large plumbing systems.

Legionnaires' disease got its name in July 1976, when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending an American Legion convention at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia.

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