A veterans' home in western Illinois where several cases of Legionnaires' disease were reported has improved its pneumonia surveillance and testing protocols but continues to have problems with the disease, according to a newly released report from the Centers for Disease Control.
The report regarding the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy was released Tuesday by Illinois Department of Public Health, the Herald-Whig reported . Legionnaires' disease, which is caused by waterborne bacteria inhaled from vapor, has contributed to the deaths of 13 residents at the facility since 2015.
The report was created in February following the investigation of four cases of the pneumonia-like illness at the facility. CDC experts tested more than 20 water samples and had one sample test positive for the presence of Legionella bacteria. They determined that continued cases of the disease in a few of the buildings on campus were likely tied to aging pluming and materials, according to the report.
The age and underlying medical conditions of veterans at the facility make them more susceptible to Legionnaires' disease and means some risk of disease will likely remain even if veterans are moved to another location, the report said.
The CDC recommended that the Department of Veterans Affairs consult a geriatric medical expert when considering relocating residents. It also noted possible negative outcomes for relocating elderly patients with weak immune systems.
"We appreciate the continued support and expert advice from both the CDC specialists and IDPH," said Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Acting Director Elisabeth Pennix, adding that the facility has "significantly reduced the presence of Legionella in the potable water system."
The facility has improved pneumonia surveillance and testing protocols, but continued effective water management is important to cut down on risk, the report said.
Illinois and Quincy will fund the construction of a new Ranney collector well that will reduce organic content in water, require less chemical treatment and provide cleaner water. The state Environmental Protection Agency will provide a $3 million grant for the project and the city will also pay $3 million.