The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are investigating a single case of Legionnaires’ disease in a resident at the Illinois Veterans Home – Quincy (IVHQ). The resident has received medical treatment and is recovering at IVHQ. No other cases have been identified and IVHQ continues to follow its plans to monitor residents for respiratory illness. The last case of Legionnaires’ disease at IVHQ was February 2018.

Legionella pneumophila bacteria/CDC

IDPH infectious disease staff are working with the facility to collect information and further investigate the resident’s illness. IVHQ has notified residents, staff, and families or power-of-attorneys. IVHQ continues to operate a robust water management program and is implementing best practices to control the growth and spread of waterborne pathogens. IVHQ provides additional water treatment, including filtration and disinfection, prior to use on its campus. IVHQ also maintains point of use filters on all fixtures in residential areas to reduce the possibility of transmission to susceptible individuals. IVHQ continues to conduct active surveillance for Legionella by monitoring residents and reviewing water quality data on an ongoing basis.

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Legionella bacteria occur naturally in the environment. Water containing Legionella can be aerosolized through cooling towers, showers, hot tubs, and decorative fountains, and can cause Legionnaire’s disease, a serious lung infection (pneumonia) when inhaled. Legionnaires’ disease is not passed from person to person. Illnesses are most commonly associated with buildings or structures that have complex water systems like hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and cruise ships. The bacteria can become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made water systems, like hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, and decorative fountains. Most healthy people do not get Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to Legionella bacteria.