A fourth resident of the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, Illinois was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. Another case of Legionnaires’ disease was also recently confirmed in the Quincy area, but this case does not appear to be associated with the Veterans’ Home in any way.
A spokesman with the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Dave MacDonna, indicated that the source of the Legionella bacteria that is responsible for this fourth case associated with the facility has not yet been determined. The gentleman’s room, where he eats, where he relaxes, and the building where he lives have all been eliminated as possible sources of exposure to the bacteria.
In light of four positive diagnoses among residents of the facility, Troy Culbertson, superintendent of the Illinois Veterans’ Home, advised that the Adams County Health Department has implemented treatment measures for respiratory illnesses at the facility. These measures allow staff members to administer antibiotics to patients prior to any confirmed diagnoses of Legionnaires’ disease, in hopes of catching the disease early and allowing a greater chance for a full recovery.
The Veterans’ Home experienced an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease last year that infected 53 and caused the death of 12, and the facility has since implemented a new water system in an attempt to prevent another outbreak. Culbertson has advised that the water is now tested daily and the results are reviewed weekly by a water committee comprised of staff at the Veterans’ Home, a water management company and local consultant, members from the Adams County Health Department, and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Last year’s Legionnaires’ outbreak in Quincy has encouraged doctors in the area to test for the presence of Legionella bacteria in their patients. However, as the disease often presents the same symptoms as pneumonia, doctors do not always test explicitly for Legionella. Therefore, it is possible that there are unidentified cases of the disease in the area that may be able to provide a greater insight as to the source of the bacteria responsible for these cases.
Legionnaires’ disease can be identified in patients by either a respiratory culture or a urinary antigen test. A urinary antigen test is only used to determine the presence of Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, or the most common cause of the disease. However, a respiratory culture would reveal all species and serogroups of Legionella bacteria that can also be responsible for the disease.
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Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com for updates to this post or for more information on Legionnaires’ disease.