QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Wednesday that the state is doing everything it can to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’ disease at a veterans home where an outbreak last year sickened 53 people, including 12 who died.
Rauner visited the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy on Wednesday, a day after officials announced that two more residents of the home were sickened and less than a month after a nearly $5 million water treatment plant and delivery system was unveiled at the facility.
The home has stopped admitting new residents. In a news release, Rauner’s office said further water restrictions may be put in place until the source of the new cases can be identified. It cautioned, though, that the source may never be identified due to the nature of the bacteria that cause the disease, which can be inhaled in water vapor.
“Upon learning about the potential of Legionnaires’ at Quincy this week, I instructed all of our state agencies to take the utmost caution to protect our residents and staff at the home,” Rauner said. “We continue to do everything possible to further mitigate any further contamination.”
Dr. Nirav Shah, the state’s public health director, said both of the recently sickened residents were treated at a hospital and released.
“The Illinois Department of Public Health is working with local public health officials, the veterans’ home and the CDC to monitor residents for respiratory illness and make sure they receive care immediately,” Shah said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Federal officials have said the bacteria that caused the outbreak last year were likely spread by an aging water system at the 129-year-old facility.
“We are terribly disappointed and hurt that the problem came back,” Dave MacDonna, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, told The Quincy Herald-Whig. “We’ve worked so hard and spent so much money in trying to solve this problem. We are very distraught about the entire situation. This is not what we wanted at all.”
This story has been corrected to show the first name of the state’s public health director is Nirav, not Nirva.