Illinois Legionella Risk

Illinois - Legionella Prevention and Costs of Legionnaires Outbreaks

Illinois Historical Headlines Related to Legionella

Illinois Historical Headlines Related to Legionella

December 27, 2023

Health officials investigated two cases of Legionnaires’ disease in patients who were treated at Rush Oak Park Hospital during a three month period. The Illinois Department of Public Health visited the facility last week to sample the water. Previous samples collected by the hospital showed positive results for legionella bacteria, according to the IDPH. (Source)

November 17, 2023

Classes were resumed at three suburban Chicago schools where Legionella bacteria was found in the cooling systems of the schools. ABC affiliate WLS-TV reported that Eastview Middle School, Larking High School and the Educational Services Center were evacauted and then closed the previous week. Two more sanitizing shocks were planned at the three schools. (Source)

October 19, 2023

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Shelby County Health Department announced that they have not identified a definitive source of Legionella exposure after testing on environmental samples following three cases of Legionnaires' disease in Findlay, IL. The testing as part of an investigation into a cluster of three Legionnaires' disease cases among individuals living in Findlay. Water and swab samples were collected from potential sources of exposure for all three individuals identified during the investigation. Legionella pneumophila, however, was not detected in any of the environmental samples. IDPH officials noted that a definitive source of Legionella is rarely determined through environmental investigation. (Source)

June 16, 2023

The Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC) sent a letter to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker urging him to address outbreaks of Legionnella, a bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, in the water at a dozen prisons across the state. “Illinois prisons are toxic,” UPLC wrote on their website. “In many prisons, the water is not safe to drink, cellhouses are full of dangerous black mold, and vermin are so pervasive that they run across prisoners as they sleep. We at UPLC are fighting to protect people in prison from these dangerous conditions.” (Source)

May 31, 2023

Public health officials said two cases of Legionnaires' disease had been linked to an L.A. Fitness location. Officials said the location was to be disinfected, impacted areas were to be cleaned, and that those areas were to remain closed until the disease is no longer detected. However, the gym and locker rooms remained open and some members were concerned. Testing by the county and state confirmed that Legionella bacteria had been found in a hot tub. An L.A. Fitness representative said they are cooperating with public health officials and it may be weeks before impacted areas are reopened to members. (Source)

May 26, 2023

There is a potential Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation at Thomson Prison in Illinois. A letter from OSHA to the prison shows staff and inmates at the prison were at risk of Legionella exposure. According to the CDC, Legionella bacteria can cause a serious type of pneumonia and other health problems. The letter says the agency knew about the issues but “failed to notify everyone after the test and aren’t doing anything.” Local news learned that the prison reached out to OSHA for an extension to do their own investigation five days past the original deadline. The deadline is when OSHA was supposed to begin their own investigation. (Source)

May 3, 2023

Legionnaires' disease has once again shown up at a veterans’ home in Illinois after a single resident tested positive in April. The agency’s directives governing the home’s clinical and environmental protocols were immediately deployed, including enhanced resident monitoring and testing of all water sources. A legionnaires outbreak at the Quincy Veterans Home killed 13 residents between 2015 and 2018. Per IDVA policy, the home conducts regular and diligent water testing and currently, there have been no tests suggesting the presence of Legionella. (Source)

April 2, 2023

Eight Illinois prisons were charged with Environmental Protection Agency violations for water containing Legionnaires disease. Several prisoner rights groups claim the Pontiac correctional center water is unsafe for inmates, staff and visitors. In 2022, prison advocacy groups urged Governor JB Pritzker to address concerns about the presence of Legionella. The Pontiac prison isn’t the only prison where the problem might exist. There are seven others cited which totaled 120 violations. (Source)

March 28, 2023

A coalition of prisoners’ rights and environmental groups have been calling on state officials to take action for the past year on numerous complaints from incarcerated people. The coalition sent a letter to Governor JB Pritzker last April urging him to address outbreaks of Legionnella in the water at a dozen state prisons. David Moran with the group Coalition to Decarcerate Illinois said they just heard back from the state last month. “It took, like, half a year for them to respond to things that, realistically, are probably worse than when we asked them,” Moran said. “It’s so incredibly frustrating.” (Source)

February 1, 2023

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker joined local, state, and community leaders to celebrate the final structural beam being placed at the Quincy Veteran's Home. The $300 million in upgrades came from the Rebuild Illinois Capital Program. Legionnaires' disease took the lives of 12 veterans at the home two years ago and some called for closing the facility. Instead, Pritzker committed to renovations. "When I talked to experts about what the right thing to do, the most cost-effective thing and that would keep our veteran's safe, the best thing to do was to upgrade the facilities here," Pritzker said. "Because we have veterans who will be coming to live in our veterans homes for many years to come." (Source)

November 18, 2022

Construction is moving forward on the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy. The $300 million project, through the Rebuild Illinois Program, was prompted by a Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak at the home. , At least 14 of the home’s veterans died since 2015 from the disease and at least 67 others got sick. Investigators looked at the age of the home’s facilities as a factor in the outbreaks. The Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, built in 1886, is the oldest in Illinois. (Source

October 13, 2022

Four people recovered from Legionnaire’s disease tied to St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in Burbank. IDPH’s Environmental Health staff performed an inspection and collected samples. Laboratory tests detected the presence of legionella in the church’s cooling tower. A remediation plan was completed by the parish in accordance with CDC guidelines and church officials say there is no ongoing risk of infection. (Source)

September 26, 2022

Four people recovered from Legionnaire’s disease. All four were tied to an outbreak at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in Burbank in a cluster of cases occurring between June and August. IDPH’s Environmental Health staff inspected the church and collected samples. Laboratory tests detected the presence of legionella in the church’s cooling tower. A remediation plan was completed by the parish in accordance with CDC guidelines. Church officials say there is no ongoing risk of infection. (Source)

August 25, 2022

A coalition of activists took aim at Water saftey at Illinois state prisons. The prisons are contaminated with toxic metals and other potentially harmful contaminants, including the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease according to the coalition. The contamination issues include detection of legionella bacteria at a dozen correctional facilities, including Stateville Correctional Center in Will County. The activists are urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to take action. (Source)

September 14, 2022

A “cluster” of Legionnaires’ disease cases are being investigated by the Illinois Department of Public Health in Burbank. Three cases were linked epidemiologically and one case was linked geographically to St. Albert the Great Church in Burbank, IL. The church was investigated by IDPH’s Environmental Health staff and samples were collected. The laboratory tests detected the presence of legionella in the church’s cooling tower, IDPH said. (Source)

September 2, 2022

According to lab reports, Legionella bacteria was found in the water at 12 Illinois prisons since testing began in February. In recent years, outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported at prisons in California, Indiana, New Jersey, and Connecticut. (Source)

August 18, 2022

Since testing began in February, Legionella bacteria was in the water at 12 Illinois prisons according to lab reports. Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported at prisons in California, Indiana, New Jersey, and Connecticut in recent years. (Source)

August 5, 2022

Groups are calling on a top-down review of the water and sewer systems in state facilities after reports of water contamination in Illinois prisons. The Illinois Capital Development Board is conducting an assessment of prison infrastructure needs, with the goal of identifying needed structural updates. The John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA) is one of six advocacy groups calling to expand the assessment, including water infrastructure. "The State of Illinois has not made the resources available to provide ongoing maintenance and upkeep for these facilities," Vollen Katz, the JHA executive director contended. "Many of them are very old, and haven't had attention paid to their physical plant infrastructure in many, many years." (Source)

July 9, 2022

$194 million was awarded to the state of Illinois by The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to cover the federal share of enhancements to the Illinois Veterans Home. Multiple outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease prompted improvements to the campus. The outbreaks caused the deaths of at least 13 residents and sickening dozens more. (Source)

July 9, 2022

Legionella was found in a water source at a central Illinois prison. The Jacksonville Correctional Center tested positive for the potentially deadly disease. No cases of Legionnaire's were reported inside the prison and no one tested positive. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), correction actions included Crews flushing the affected pipes and raising the water heater temperature to 140 degrees, per recommendations. (Source)

June 30, 2022

Due to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Brookdale Senior Living facility in Vernon Hills, Illinois, the facility shut off its water features and added point-of-use filters. Five total cases were reported at the Vernon Hills senior center since Feb. 5, 2020, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. One person died following the outbreak of the disease at the facility. Brookdale Senior Living said, in a statement to Pioneer Press, the business is following protocols and recommendations from county and state officials. According to the Chicago Tribune, the facility took several mitigation measures including shutting off all water features; cleaning shower heads; and adding water filters.

June 23, 2022

A piece of Illinois legislation was signed by Governor JB Pritzker related to Legionnaires’ disease. The legislation is aimed at protecting senior citizens and other at-risks residents in Illinois from waterborne illnesses. The legislation requires water utilities to notify healthcare and senior living facilities of water supply disruptions that could lead to elevated water quality and microbial risks. In required CDC reporting, Illinois typically reports 300 to 500 cases of Legionnaires’ disease annually. Water systems are typically well-managed, however disruptions caused by water main breaks, flooding, construction, changes in water treatment, pressure and flow changes can increase risk by dislodging biofilm in the water distribution systems and release pathogens to high-risk populations. (Source)

May 25, 2022

There is proposed legislation requiring water utilities to notify health-care and senior living facilities of water supply disruptions that could lead to water quality problems, such as legionella and other pathogens. (Source).


In 2018, Illinois implemented sweeping new water management guidelines for water utilities to ensure high water quality and better prevent waterborne illness issues. In addition, most health-care facilities are required by the Joint Commission that approves accreditation and the federal government to have water management plans in place to control legionella risks. (Source).


Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, has been detected in the water at five correctional facilities in the past 12 months, the Illinois Department of Corrections confirmed. (Source)


Legionnaires’ disease continues to make headlines today. A single case of Legionnaires’ disease was reported at an Illinois veterans home in downstate Quincy, a few years after an outbreak there killed more than a dozen residents. In Geneva, a resident contracted Legionnaires' disease from contaminated vapor released from its cooling tower because of the company's negligence in not properly maintaining and cleaning its water system. These are only a snapshot of the cases reported to local health departments in Illinois.

Illinois Legionella Reported Settlements and Jury Awards

Illinois Reported Settlements and Jury Awards

Given the incidence of legionella in Illinois, and its associated harm, personal injury claims and litigation are also becoming more frequent. Reported settlements and jury awards range from $50,000 to $6.4 million.

State Cap on Jury Awards for Legionella in Illinois

State Cap on Jury Awards for Legionella in Illinois

Illinois has no cap on the award amounts allowable by law. In addition, public health notices and negative media attention can also lead to business interruption and reputation damage.

Groundwater Temperature Risk Level – Medium

Overall Liabliity and Risk for Illinois – High

No, ASHRAE 188 is not part of the state code

Legionella and Water Management Plan Assistance

Need help? For Legionella consulting and services, Water Management Plans, Legionella Control Systems, and Legionella testing please contact us at Legionella Control Systems at 888-416-8626 or

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