The Cook County Department of Public Health has linked a handful of Legionnaire’s disease cases to an LA Fitness club on the 5700 block of Touhy Avenue in Niles.
Cook County Department of Public Health spokesperson Kim Junius said the department was notified about the cases on May 5. There are fewer than five cases associated with the facility, Junius said, explaining the department’s policy is not to give specific case numbers for fewer than five cases.If 28 days pass without identification of any new cases, Junius said the outbreak would be considered over. Twenty-eight days is twice the maximum incubation period for the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease, she said.According to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease spreads through tiny water droplets that can sicken humans when inhaled. It causes a type of pneumonia that can set in two days to two weeks after exposure and has symptoms of fever, coughing, shortness of breath and muscle aches, according to CDC information.The bacteria, known as legionella, can grow in improperly maintained plumbing systems and attached shower heads, sink faucets, hot tubs or decorative fountains, among other sources.Junius said health clubs and other businesses can prevent growth of legionella through regular cleaning and “checking chlorine levels and other factors for pool-safe operating levels.”Elderly people, people with chronic lung disease or immune problems or current and former smokers are particularly vulnerable.Representatives from LA Fitness did not respond to phone and email requests for comment from Pioneer Press. Village of Niles spokesperson Mitch Johnson said the business was up to date on its licensing fees.Because Niles, like most suburbs, does not have a health department, Johnson said the Illinois or Cook County Departments of Public Health are responsible for inspecting and enforcing health and safety regulations. The village does do its own inspections for businesses serving food and drink, he said.