CDC sheds light on vets home outbreak - Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

CDC sheds light on vets home outbreak

Korean War vet Ralph Genenbacher was one of the first to contract Legionnaires' disease at the home. Korean War vet Ralph Genenbacher was one of the first to contract Legionnaires' disease at the home.

A CDC report is shedding more light on the Legionnaires' disease outbreak that killed 12 people and sickened dozens more at the Illinois Veterans Home.

Ralph Genenbacher is legally blind, he says he has to stay at the Illinois Veterans Home because he doesn't have any other option."

"That's the reason I am out here," Genenbacher said. "I have a nurse who is here and she gives me medication and takes care of me."

Ralph says he was one of first people to catch Legionnaires' disease this summer. In all there were 45 confirmed cases.

The preliminary report states an aging water system and lack of proper management led to the outbreak, saying the outbreak "occurred in a setting with no formal water management plan, no legionella specific prevention plan, limited legionella testing, and limited monitoring of water treatment parameters."

Adding to that, the CDC report states a lack of proper testing delayed the detection of the outbreak, giving it more time to spread before the removal process started.

"I didn't even go to the hospital, they just gave me antibiotics," Genenbacher said. "But after they found out what it was, they started putting people in the hospital."

Ralph says veteran home officials have made changes.

"They have filters on everything," Genenbacher said. "Even our showers got a filter on it so you don't get anything in your shower or bath." 

Senator John Sullivan said he is actively working on a bill to make necessary repairs to make sure the outbreak doesn't happen again. 

"I've seen the list of the deeds and maintenance needs out at the Quincy veterans home as well as other homes across the state," Sullivan said. "It's great, it is a long list and we need to start whittling away at that."

The report states there were 45 confirmed cases of legionellosis, 12 of which resulted in death.

The report shows legionella bacteria grew in an aging water system that hadn't been updated.

The Illinois Department of Public Health sent off five water samples, and the report shows all five tested positive for the bacteria

Crews are going to work on the old water system. The report says it was last updated in 2012.

WGEM reached out to the state for a response to the CDC report, but they declined our request for comment or an interview. 

A full report should be out sometime in the next week.

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