Legionnaires

With a fourth case of COVID-19 announced in Illinois Monday, coronavirus continues to dominate headlines. But experts say there’s another, more common disease that ought to be getting more attention.

ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office has opened an investigation into the management by Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration of a Legionnaire's disease crisis at a state-run veterans' home.

Eileen Boyce is spokeswoman for the Democratic attorney general. She said Wednesday that authorities will review whether laws were broken and whether residents, their families, staff members and the public "were informed in a timely and appropriate manner."

quincyivh.org

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law Tuesday to speed up reconstruction of the troubled state-run veterans' home in Quincy.

The Republican governor approved the legislation to consolidate the design and building processes under state law to save time in overhauling the western Illinois campus where 13 people have died since 2015 because of Legionnaires' disease, although groundbreaking is a year away.

"It's an important step forward to serve our veterans, to keep our veterans safe and healthy," Rauner said.

ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS

Illinois is using emergency spending rules to upgrade the water system at the veterans’ home in Quincy. Outbreaks of the waterborne Legionnaires’ Disease have killed and sickened dozens of residents and staff.

Calling the current water system a “danger to public health,” the Department of Veterans' Affairs is buying $650,000 worth of new water filters, faucets, and bacteria monitoring equipment.

By declaring the purchases “emergencies,” the state is bypassing normal spending safeguards, which can add months of public scrutiny.

Victoria Lunacek / WNIJ

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration reversed course Monday and announced that it will replace residence halls at the Quincy veterans' facility, which housed victims of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak responsible for the deaths 13 people and making dozens more ill since 2015.

 

CDC

Officials say there are two more laboratory-confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease among residents of a veterans' home in western Illinois. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Monday night that its engineering staff has removed faucets from the residents' rooms at the Illinois Veterans' Home in Quincy, collected water samples and taken other steps to ensure safe water.

The department says the two residents with the respiratory illness are doing well. The disease is caused by bacteria in water vapor that's inhaled.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

Legionella bacteria, which has created problems for an Illinois veterans home in Quincy, might be present at the State Capitol Complex. Initial water tests from a burst pipe showed the presence of Legionella DNA. But until additional test results come out, state officials are saying it’s safe for employees and visitors to continue their daily routine.

quincyivh.org

The water system at a state-run veterans’ home in Quincy where 13 people have died of Legionnaires’ disease may never be fully cleansed of the bacteria that causes the sometimes fatal illness, and more cases could be inevitable, federal public health authorities warned Thursday.

This arch acknowledges the original name of the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. The name was changed in 1974.Credit Andrew Gill/WBEZEdit | Remove

durbin.senate.gov

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is again criticizing Governor Bruce Rauner’s handling of Legionnaires’ disease at a veterans home, saying “We need solutions, not cover-ups.”

 Durbin’s statement comes after WBEZ published a 2015 email from Nirav Shah - the state’s public health director. In it he writes agency officials waited six days after they knew an epidemic was on their hands at the Quincy veterans’ home before publicizing it.

Feds Reimburse $4M For Quincy Veterans Home Water System

Feb 1, 2017
CDC

The federal government is reimbursing Illinois more than $4 million for a new water treatment facility at a Quincy veterans home that was the site of a Legionnaires Disease outbreak.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was awarding the money to the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, which would reimburse the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

An outbreak of the disease killed 12 people and sickened at least 54 in 2015 and a federal report found the bacteria was likely spread by an aging water system.

CDC

State officials are looking into more than a dozen cases of respiratory illness at a LaSalle Veterans' Home.

Eleven residents tested positive with pneumonia over the past several months. One of the residents also tested positive for Legionnaires' disease. A spokesperson for the Department of Veterans' Affairs says the 97-year-old resident had multiple underlying issues and has since died.

Two other people in LaSalle County tested positive for Legionnaires' disease.

CDC

The Illinois Veterans Home where a summer Legionnaire's disease outbreak led to 12 deaths and sickened more than 40 others is replacing its water systems and making other emergency repairs. 

The Quincy Herald-Whig reports that the estimated $4.8 million worth of repairs include the installation of a new water main and other water lines at the 129-year-old facility.