The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on Friday that a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ Disease has been diagnosed in an Adams County resident. That county is where the Quincy Veteran’s Home, which had a Legionnaires’ outbreak last fall, is located.
That outbreak in August and September 2015, sickened 45 people and killed twelve. Most of those who were sickened lived or worked at the Veteran’s Home. The buildings at that facility are old, but officials replaced the water system after that outbreak, and they added a new water treatment facility that provides thermal and chemical treatments to control bacteria.
The water systems in older buildings are more likely to harbor legionella bacteria. The bacteria are released into the air through vapor or mist from showers, cooling towers, HVAC units, hot tubs, and fountains. When people breathe in the mist and the bacteria, they can get sick. The illness is not spread person to person.
The newly diagnosed case could have been exposed at the Quincy Veterans’ Home or at a personal residence. Test results were “unable to provide a conclusive ink to either location,” according to the news release.
IDPH Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah said in a statement, “cases of legionellosis, which includes Legionnaires’ disease, are not uncommon, with an average of 250 cases reported each year in Illinois. At this time, we do not believe there is an increased risk of Legionnaires’ disease in the Adams county area, nor at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. ”
IDVA Director Erica Jeffries added, “While this case is not confirmed to have come from the Quincy Veterans’ Home, we are continuing to implement every necessary precaution to ensure the health and safety of our residents and staff. That is our top priority.”
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Those most vulnerable to the illness are people over the age of 50, current or former smokers, anyone with chronic lung diseases and those with weakened immune systems. Many cases are undiagnosed at first because the symptoms are so similar to pneumonia. Up to 30% of those sickened with this illness die.