Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Illinois Department of Public Health
continue to collaborate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) to help ensure the safety and well-being of residents and staff at the
Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy after outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease
is a common name for one of the several illnesses caused by Legionnaires'
disease bacteria (LDB). Legionnaires' disease is an infection of the lungs that
is a form of pneumonia. A person can develop Legionnaires' disease by inhaling
water mist contaminated with LDB. LDB are widely present at low levels in the
environment: in lakes, streams, and ponds.
Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy completed an extensive renovation of its
plumbing systems last year in response to the 2015 Legionnaires’ disease
included construction ($6.4 million) of a new state of the art water treatment
plant capable of providing higher -quality water for the Home’s sensitive
efforts with the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Adams County Health
Department and Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Prior to the
new permanent water plant, a temporary water plant was created where additional
chemical treatments were made to the water received from the City of Quincy.
All Hot water
is heated to 150 degrees killing any Legionella bacteria.
water is chemically treated.
were places on every faucet, tub, shower and sink mixing cold water to a
temperature of 110 degrees, which allows for the maximum control of bacteria
while protecting residents from scalding.
filters are on every water outlet on the campus (750) and replaced every month.
The water is
tested 500 times a month at the Quincy Veterans Home
system is flushed twice every day.
The IDVA has
fully cooperated with the CDC and have initiated every recommendation they have
were created to further protect IDVA continues to test and treat its water for
harmful bacteria, including Legionella. Along with additional chlorine
treatments, IVHQ maintains hot water at 150 degrees to prevent the growth of
What is legionellosis?
is a bacterial disease of the lungs caused by Legionella pneumophila. The
disease can range from a mild respiratory illness to severe pneumonia and
death. The most common form of legionellosis is known as "Legionnaires'
disease," named after an outbreak in 1976 when many people who attended an
American Legion conference in Philadelphia became ill.
How common is legionellosis?
estimated that between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with legionellosis
in the United States each year. An additional unknown number are infected with
the Legionella bacterium but have mild symptoms or no illness
at all. The disease can occur at any time of the year, but is more common
in the summer and early autumn.
How are people infected with legionella?
Legionella bacteria are
widely distributed, and normally grow best in warm water environments. They
have been found in creeks and ponds, water taps (primarily hot water taps), hot
water tanks, cooling towers and evaporative condensers, whirlpool spas, and
people contract the disease by inhaling mist or vapor from a water source
contaminated with the bacteria. In some cases, the disease may be
transmitted by other ways, such as aspirating contaminated water. The
disease is not contracted by drinking contaminated water, and person-to-person
spread of legionellosis does not occur.
occur following the exposure of many individuals to a common source of the
bacteria in the environment. When a single case occurs, it is extremely
difficult to pinpoint a source. Environmental testing is recommended only when
multiple cases have the same potential exposure.
man-made water systems are the most likely source of Legionella,
appropriate maintenance is very important. Water temperatures can be
raised to reduce transmission, and chemical treatments or biocides can be
administered to water systems to inhibit growth of bacteria.
What are the usual symptoms of legionellosis?
incubation period, the time between exposure and onset of illness, is two to
ten days, but most often five to six days.
Who is most at risk for legionellosis?
of any age may get Legionnaires' disease, but the disease most often affects
persons older than 50. The disease is rare in people younger than 20
years of age. People at high-risk of acquiring the disease include
current and former smokers, persons with chronic lung disease like emphysema or
COPD, or those with compromised immunity (like patients who receive
corticosteroids or have had an organ transplant). People with underlying
illnesses, such as cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, or AIDS are also at higher
How is legionellosis diagnosed?
chest exam and/or x-ray is usually performed to confirm a diagnosis of
pneumonia. The most common laboratory test is the urinary antigen test, which
detects the presence of Legionella antigen in the urine.
A diagnosis of legionellosis can be confirmed by successful culture (isolation
and growth) of the bacteria from specimens taken from an ill patient.
is the treatment for legionellosis?
may be required for patients with legionellosis. Most cases can be
successfully treated with antibiotics. There is no vaccine to prevent
How are cases of legionellosis reported?
Legionellosis is a reportable disease in the state of Illinois, and cases must be
reported to the local health department within seven days. Timely reporting
allows identification of additional cases and control of possible contaminated