2 Legionnaires' cases reported at Quincy veterans home

QUINCY – Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported at a veterans home in western Illinois more than two years after an outbreak killed 12 people and sickened 54 at the facility.

The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs said Wednesday that two residents at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy contracted the disease. Department spokesman Dave MacDonna said one resident died last week, but officials believe the death resulted from other factors. The other resident is recovering.

The bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease grow in warm water and often are present in water supplies. MacDonna said the source of the current Legionnaires’ disease cases isn’t known. He said the facility is “testing the water and closely monitoring residents.”

Facility administrator Troy Culbertson said he was surprised to see the recent cases, because the home’s water is tested often and results have been negative. “The clinical indications [from the two cases] are not matching with our water quality results,” Culbertson said. “We have had very good water quality results for this whole year. In fact, none of our sites on campus are testing positive.”

Culbertson said he wonders whether the residents contracted the disease while off campus.

“That is a very real possibility that the [Department of Public Health] and [Illinois] EPA are looking at right now,” he said.

The outbreak in 2015 occurred after the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs began a nearly $5 million extensive rehabilitation of the home. Another case of three residents becoming ill was reported in 2016.