The Illinois Department of Public Health is taking steps to prevent more people in a Quincy veterans’ home from contracting Legionnaires’ disease.23 cases have been confirmed and two people have died.
“The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and our Quincy Home staff are deeply saddened by the passing of these two veterans, just as we are when any of our residents pass," said IDVA Director Erica Jeffries in a written statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and caretakers of these residents.”
Because Legionnaires’ disease is spread through water, not from person to person, IDPH Director Dr. Nirav Shah says checking water systems is the best prevention method.
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“We’ve advised the facility to remove all the showerheads and make sure they can be tested to see if they have any evidence of the bacteria in it,” Shah said. “We have advised the facility to bring in, for example, temporary chillers, so the facility’s own refrigerators can be inspected and certified by outside experts.”
There’s little risk of the bacteria spreading outside the home, Shah says. He also warns that due to the water-borne origin of Legionnaires’ disease, it’s difficult to do anything beforehand to prevent the bacteria from getting into a facility in the first place.