Two veterans at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, both with underlying medical conditions, have died after contracting Legionnaires' disease, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
State officials are not identifying the two veterans to allow families time to notify other family and friends, but say the victims were among 23 individuals who have been diagnosed to date with Legionnaires'.
"The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) and our Quincy Home staff are deeply saddened by the passing of these two veterans, just as we are when any of our residents pass," said Erica Jeffries, Director, IDVA. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and caretakers of these residents.
Director of Clinical and Environmental Services Shay Drummond said the additional lab-confirmed cases were announced Friday morning. The news comes just a day after the health department said there were eight confirmed cases.
Drummond said the veterans home continues to be proactive. The facility has been working with the health department, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Center for Disease Control and Blessing Hospital.
"Environmental control and mediation has been ongoing since Monday," Drummond said.
Drummond said people have expressed concern over visiting the facility but at this point, there's been no talk of restricting visitors.
"We would recommend anyone who is sick or has immunity issues should hold off on visits (to the veterans home) for a while," Drummond said. "Older adults should postpone visits as well."
The Legionella bacteria grows in warm water. The heath department says to be infected, a person must inhale water vapor contaminated with the bacteria.This can include fountains, hot tubs, shower areas and cooling towers. It can't be transmitted from one person to another.
Drummond said the health department is confident it's contained to the veterans home.
"The Legionnella bacteria can be found anywhere, but it's usually in small doses that won't make you sick," Drummond said. "But when a cluster of people get sick like this, it's very likely there's one source point.
Drummond said they hope to the find the source when environmental sampling results come in, which could be early next week.