DANVILLE — State health officials are trying to determine whether three out-of-town residents who contracted Legionnaires' disease can trace the illness back to a Danville-area hotel.
Doug Toole, public health administrator at the Vermilion County Health Department, said Wednesday that three people developed the severe form of pneumonia, which can be deadly, after visiting the Red Roof Inn, 389 Lynch Drive, between October 2015 and September 2016.
Legionnaires' disease is caused by bacteria in the lungs. People get sick if they inhale mist from contaminated water systems, hot tubs or cooling systems — most frequently in large buildings such as hospitals and hotels.
"It loves warm water," Toole said of the disease, which can't be spread via person-to-person contact but can be fatal.
He said no one locally has reported having the disease.
The Illinois Department of Public Health visited the hotel Wednesday and took water samples from the facility's pool and whirlpool, both of which have been closed, as well as one guest room, Toole said.
Without the test results, which will be processed by a private lab and could take up to two weeks, officials can't say whether the three stricken people staying at the same hotel is anything more than a coincidence, Toole said.
Two of the people are from Michigan and visited the hotel together, Toole said, with the third person in town from northern Illinois.
Because Legionnaires' is a reportable disease, any public health agency that could be affected must be notified, he said.
About 300 cases of Legionnaires' disease are typically reported each year in Illinois, according to state public health officials. But 2015 and 2016 have been especially catastrophic in Illinois, with an outbreak at the Quincy Veteran's Home leading to the deaths of 12 residents and 54 positive tests last summer.
In August, state officials confirmed a third new case of Legionnaires' disease at the western Illinois veterans home that houses about 400 residents.