QUINCY – There are two more laboratory-confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement Monday night.
Both residents are at the facility and are doing well, the agency said. An investigation is underway to identify where the residents may have acquired the bacteria.
After learning of the cases, engineering staff immediately removed faucets from the residents’ rooms and collected water samples and mixing valves to analyze for the presence of Legionella bacteria, according to the Public Health statement. Staff also increased water temperatures and flushed fixtures to provide an enhanced level of protection for residents.
Thirteen residents of the Veterans Home have died of Legionnaires' disease since 2015. The first outbreak in 2015 killed 12 and left dozens more ill. There have been subsequent outbreaks in each of the following two years: Five people were sickened in 2016. In 2017, six fell ill and it contributed to one death.
Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia, is caused by bacteria that grows in warm water. It's suspected those who became ill in Quincy have inhaled the bacteria through various water sources, like showers and sinks. The 132-year-old facility in some places has galvanized pipes that are more than a century old, which is likely where the Legionella bacteria lurks.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, who spent a week living in the facility, has announced plans to make major upgrades to its plumbing. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who originally called for the facility to be closed, has since pledged to leverage federal Veterans' Administration funding to help.