The Illinois 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 since 2015.
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.
Veterans Home in Quincy completed an extensive renovation of its plumbing
systems last year in response to the 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak:
• Renovations 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 population.
• Coordinated 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.
• All Cold water is chemically
• Mixing valves 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.
• Special Pall 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
• The entire system is flushed
twice every day.
• The IDVA has fully cooperated
with the CDC and have initiated every recommendation they have offered.
• Protocols 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 Legionella.
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.
common is legionellosis?
It is 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.
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 decorative fountains.
Most 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
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.
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.
are the usual symptoms of legionellosis?
period, the time between exposure and onset of illness, is two to ten days, but
most often five to six days.
is most at risk for legionellosis?
People 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 risk.
is legionellosis diagnosed?
A 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.
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
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