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Cook County Jail Detainee Diagnosed with Apparent Isolated Case of Legionnaires’ Disease

This afternoon, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office was notified by Cermak Health Services, a division of the Cook County Health and Hospital System, that a detainee who has been hospitalized since July 6 with pneumonia like symptoms has tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease. At this time, it appears to be an isolated case of the illness; neither his cell-mate nor other detainees or staff on his living unit or in his division have developed symptoms of the illness.However, out of an abundance of caution, the detainees on the tier will be moved until further notice.

Sheriff Dart has directed the Cook County Department of Facilities Management, an agency of the County Board, and the Cook County Health and Hospital Systems to immediately identify the source of the bacteria.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia and is caused by water born bacterium known as legionella. The disease is not spread from person-to-person contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It is generally spread by inhalation of water that contains the bacteria. Most healthy people exposed to the bacteria do not get sick. Older adults, smokers and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease.

All staff that work in the division in which the detainee was housed are being notified and encouraged to consult with their personal physician. According to the CDC, less than 5 percent of people exposed to the bacteria develop Legionnaires’ disease.

The detainee is doing well and being treated at Stroger Hospital. The detainee has been in the jail since Fall 2015.


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