Family members, lawmakers react to new legionnaires' cases at Ve - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Family members, lawmakers react to new legionnaires' cases at Vets' Home

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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

More problems arise at the Illinois Veterans' Home, with word of two more cases of Legionnaires' Disease.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports two laboratory-confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease among residents at the Illinois Veterans' Home in Quincy.

"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," Bill Huber, family member of a current resident said. "It's still frustrating that it's still happening."

The Illinois Department of Public Health said two residents showed signs of pneumonia on February 8th. That's when tests were sent to Blessing Hospital. When those tests came back negative, different tests were done at a state lab. Those tests confirmed legionnaires disease. 

"Look, the capitol development board should be brought in," Senator Tom Cullerton said. "There's $15 million 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."

The CDC said legionnella bacteria is 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 effecting the entire institution?" Cullerton said.

Senator Jil Tracy said these new cases will speed up the process for lawmakers to come up with a plan.

"We're looking at the option to retro-fit new piping from the new water treatment facility there, so all of it is being discussed," Tracy added.

Huber's dad suffers from Alzheimer's and has been at the home for nearly a year. He wishes the state can figure this out, 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.

IDPH reports the impacted residents are doing well. Engineers are collecting samples to look for the presence of legionella bacteria in other spots at the home. 

An investigation is now underway to identify where the residents may have acquired the bacteria, according to IDPH.

Legionnaires' disease has killed 13 residents at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy since 2015. 

Rauner's office responded to the new cases Tuesday morning. Rachel Bold, Rauner's Press Secretary released the following statement.

Governor Rauner continues to work with IDPH Director Nirav Shah, IDVA Director Erica Jeffries, the CDC and the Adams County Health Department to provide for the health and safety of the skilled nursing home’s residents and staff. Engineering staff at the home acted quickly, immediately implementing prescribed contingency responses -- completing thermal eradication and other measures to protect residents and staff. Our goal must be to put politics aside and work together to keep our veterans safe and healthy.

Click here to read extensive coverage of the Legionnaires' cases at the vets' home.

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