“QUINCY, IL (WGEM/CNN) – Two new cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported at a veterans home where more than a dozen people have died from the disease since 2015.
“I have no idea why it’s still happening, because I know they put a whole new water system in out here when the first outbreak came out in 2015,” said Bill Huber, whose father resides in the home. “It’s still frustrating that it’s still happening.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health said two residents showed signs of pneumonia on Feb. 8. That’s when tests were sent to a local hospital.
When those tests came back negative, different tests were done at a state lab. Those tests confirmed Legionnaires’ disease.
“Look, the capital development board should be brought in,” said Illinois state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park. “There’s 15 million dollars of federal funds that could be utilized, and the governor should come to us to appropriate whatever else is needed to get the problem fixed, but he’s not doing that.”
With Legionella bacteria known to grow in summer months, Cullerton said it’s concerning to see it pop up in the winter.
“If it’s coming up in the dead of cold when it’s not supposed to, how quickly once that thaw hits, is it really going to start affecting the entire institution?” Cullerton said.
State Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, said these new cases will speed up the process for lawmakers to come up with a plan.
“We’re looking at the option to retrofit new piping from the new water treatment facility there, so all of it is being discussed,” Tracy said.
Bill Huber’s father suffers from Alzheimer’s and has been at the home for nearly a year. Huber wishes the state could solve the situation, but he’s glad to see local staff working hard.
“They check it every hour of every day, so they’re doing everything they can to keep the residents safe,” Huber said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said engineers are scouring the home, looking for the presence of more Legionella bacteria. They also have put measures in place to protect residents and staff.”