In a follow-up to a report on Legionnaires’ disease cases reported at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy (IVHQ), state health officials are reporting a third laboratory-confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease at the IVHQ.

Legionella pneumophila bacteria/CDC
Legionella pneumophila bacteria/CDC

The resident is in stable condition.

Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have returned to the home in Quincy, at the request of IDPH on Tuesday, February 13th, to review testing protocols for individuals with respiratory illness.

The IVHQ was the site of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2015 where an outbreak sickened dozens and killed a number of people.

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.

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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.

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.