McHenry Villa water tests positive for Legionella
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has sent a notice of violation to McHenry Villa, an independent senior living community, regarding a sanitary hazard in its plumbing system. After three residents of McHenry Villa were confirmed earlier this month to have Legionnaires’ disease, IDPH conducted an investigation, which revealed structural issues with the plumbing system. Test results have also confirmed the presence of Legionella bacteria in the plumbing system.
“Our concern is the health and safety of the McHenry Villa residents,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “Because this community is similar to an independently operated apartment complex, implementation of water use restrictions is not feasible and correction of the violations may not be possible while residents are occupying the building. IDPH is notifying McHenry Villa of the violations so the owners can remediate the plumbing system and provide a healthy living community for residents and staff.”
McHenry Villa has been fully cooperating with the investigation. The senior living community is required to submit a plan to IDPH detailing how it will fix the plumbing violations and mitigate the Legionella risks. IDPH will review the plan to see if it adequately addresses risks and corrects the plumbing violations in a satisfactory timeframe.
IDPH has also provided information to McHenry Villa to give to its residents and their families about reducing their risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious lung infection (pneumonia) that people can get by breathing in small droplets of water containing Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease is not passed from person to person. Outbreaks are most commonly associated with buildings or structures that have complex water systems, like hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and cruise ships. The bacterium can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made water systems, like hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, and decorative fountains.
Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to Legionella bacteria. People at increased risk of Legionnaires’ disease are those 50 years of age or older, or those who have certain risk factors, such as being a current or former smoker, having a chronic disease, or having a weakened immune system.
More information about Legionnaires’ disease can be found on the IDPH website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.