Events in 2015 prompted increased attention on Legionella in 2016


Legionnaires’ disease is a severe and often fatal form of pneumonia that is caused by Legionella pneumophila; a bacteria found in both potable and non-potable water systems.


A few events in 2015 prompted Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) to focus more attention on the prevention of Legionnaires’ disease in suburban Cook County (SCC). These events included: the evacuation of a SCC school, due to high levels of Legionella bacteria found in cooling towers; a large outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in an Illinois long-term care facility; and the biggest outbreak in New York history.


In consultation with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the CCDPH Environmental Health Services (EHS) and Communicable Disease (CD) units began working more closely with facilities to provide:

  • education about Legionnaires’ disease
  • technical assistance on how to implement water management plans to prevent Legionella disease
  • outbreak investigations to identify the source of an outbreak
  • recommendations to abate the problem and maintain continuity of services

In 2017, CCDPH’s EHS and CD units will continue to work with IDPH to serve as a resource for facilities throughout SCC.

For more information about water management and Legionnaires’ disease, call EHS at 708-974-7105.