3rd New Case of Legionnaires at Veterans Home Where 13 Died

A third new case of Legionnaires' disease has been reported this week in a resident at a western Illinois veterans' home where the illness has been linked to the deaths of 13 people since 2015 and sickened dozens more, state public health and veterans' affairs officials said Thursday.

The latest laboratory-confirmed case at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy was reported late Wednesday. The resident is in stable condition. The first two cases this week were reported Monday and those residents were doing well.

In response, the state is boosting water disinfection to reduce potential exposure. The disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria in water vapor that's inhaled. The state also is installing new filter on sinks to reduce aeration, limiting bathing to showers only and checking residents' temperatures every two hours while they're awake.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention representatives returned to the home Tuesday to review testing protocols for those with respiratory illness. Earlier this week, engineering staff removed faucets from the residents' rooms, collected water samples and took other steps to ensure the water is safe, officials said.

Teams were working to trace potential sources of legionella bacteria and perform more environmental health testing, officials said.

The crisis at the state-run home has prompted criticism of the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner, who spend a week at the facility in January. He said afterward that the state would replace the plumbing at the sprawling, 130-year-old site. He also said he would assemble a group of experts to determine whether a state-of-the-art dorm should be built and whether a safer groundwater source is available for the home.

A lawsuit was filed against the state by 11 families of stricken veterans. The CDC said in a report earlier this year that it's unlikely the bacteria can be completely eliminated from the facility.

Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold said Thursday the administration continues to be focused on identifying the source of Legionella and ensuring the elimination of "every potential risk to our veterans." She added the CDC was at the nursing home facility, working with the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Public Health Department to do further assessments and testing.

The Illinois Legislature has held hearings in recent months to examine the state's response to the disease. The House Veterans' Affairs Committee advanced a resolution demanding a clear and detailed timeline of the events surrounding the outbreak. It now goes to the full House, The State Journal-Register reported.

If approved, the resolution would give the Rauner administration two weeks to provide a comprehensive timeline of events. The resolution also calls for the administration to propose solutions that would help prevent further outbreaks at the facility.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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