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Cook County Jail detainee falls ill with Legionnaires' disease

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Chicago Tribune
by Marwa Eltagour

 
Tribune illustration

A Cook County Jail detainee tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease after being hospitalized since July 6 with pneumonia-like symptoms, sheriff’s officials said.

The case appears to be isolated, as the detainee’s cellmate as well as the other detainees and staff in his division have not developed symptoms, Cook County Sheriff’s Office officials said in a news release.

Cermak Health Services, a division of Cook County Health and Hospital Systems that services the jail, notified the sheriff’s office Wednesday afternoon that the detainee, who had been serving a sentence for residential burglary since fall 2015, had tested positive for the disease.

The detainee is doing well and being treated at Stroger Hospital, officials said.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia and is caused by water born bacterium known as legionella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

The disease is not spread from person-to-person contact, but instead spread by inhalation of water that contains the bacteria. While most healthy people exposed to the bacteria won’t get sick, older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems can be susceptible to illness.

Detainees living in the unit of the diagnosed detainee have been moved to another location of the jail, and will remain there until the source of the bacteria has been identified, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Cara Smith. Staff working in the division where the detainee was housed have been notified of the case and encouraged to consult their doctors.

“There are no indications whatsoever that this is an issue beyond this particular individual,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll identify the source of bacteria soon and take the necessary next steps to resume normal operations.”

Copyright © 2016,Chicago Tribune


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