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Baptismal Font at Illinois Church Removed due to Legionella Fears

EMSL Analytical offers traditional culturing and rapid PCR test methods to quickly and accurately identify the pathogen that causes Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever.

Chicago, IL – WEBWIRE

In October, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that six Illinois residents from Champaign County had been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease since September 15, 2018. Several locations are part of an investigation for the source of the disease, including a large church, where some of the infected people may have participated in wedding activities.

A short time after the IDPH announcement, The News-Gazette ran a story looking into the church connection. In it, the paper revealed that although services were being held as normal at the church in question, the baptismal font was being tested for the Legionella bacteria and had been removed. The article also linked at least three of the sick people with contact with the church.

Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever are caused by a type of bacteria known as Legionella. Disease can occur when people breathe in small droplets of water that contain it. Certain groups of people are more likely to become seriously ill when infected, including individuals who are 65 years of age or older, smokers, people with chronic lung disease, and individuals with a weakened immune system.

“Warm water is a breeding ground for Legionella and it is possible that a baptismal font used for non-immersive baptisms that sprinkle or pour water over people could be a source of an outbreak, as could a decorative fountain in a church or other locations,” said Jason Dobranic, Ph.D., Vice President of Microbiology and Life Sciences at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Other common sources of the bacteria include buildings that have complex water systems, hot tubs, hot water tanks, humidifiers, nebulizers and cooling towers.”

The scientists at EMSL Analytical, Inc. provide environmental testing services to prevent these types of outbreaks or pinpoint the source of one if it has already occurred. With laboratories throughout the United States and Canada, EMSL offers traditional culturing methods and advanced PCR and DNA sequencing test methods to rapidly identify Legionella. They also provide all of the sampling supplies necessary and are proud to have twenty laboratories that have received the CDC’s Certificate of Proficiency from the agency’s Elite Program for Legionella testing. Another five locations are also NYSDOH ELAP Legionella certified laboratories.

To learn more about Legionella or other microbial testing services, please visit or, email  or call (800) 220-3675.

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is one of the leading testing laboratories with over 45 locations throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP 797, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA LAP, LLC. (AIHA EMLAP, AIHA IHLAP, AIHA ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at for a complete listing of accreditations. In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.

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 Legionnaires’ disease
 baptismal font
 water test

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