Legionnaires' cases reported at Mercy Hospital

Public health officials are investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease in patients who were possibly exposed to the bacteria while at Mercy Hospital.

The Illinois and Chicago departments of public health were at the hospital Thursday to evaluate the building’s water system for possible Legionella bacteria in order to determine its source, officials said in a statement.

The investigation is limited to the hospital and there is no risk to the public, the state’s public health department said.

The conditions of the two patients were not released.

A spokeswoman for Mercy Hospital said the investigation was ongoing and that the source of the infections has not been determined.

Water samples to test for Legionella bacteria have been collected from the hospital, the officials said. The bacteria are transmitted through drops of water and can cause serious lung infections and possibly death. The bacteria mixes with the air in showers or fountains, and can cause illness when inhaled.

Mercy Hospital is working with the health departments to strengthen its water management practices, officials said. The hospital has begun flushing its water system, and will alter or replace water fixtures and place filters on sinks.

The hospital spokeswoman said the hospital “and its patients are safe.” Mercy Hospital has followed water management guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, and fully supports the ongoing investigation, the spokeswoman said.