Illinois state health officials have been having a difficult couple of weeks as continued questions move ahead over the state’s response to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at Quincy, Illinois’ Veterans Home. Those difficult weeks may be extended by quite a bit more after this week’s testing at the Illinois Capital Building. Late on Monday, 1/22/18, an email by officials announced the preliminary results of testing. The initial testing apparently did not go over well, a move which prompted House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff, Tim Mapes, to send a memo the very next day to prompt everyone at the Capitol to be, “advised to have a pencil-sized stream of water when washing their hands” until complete testing was complete in about two weeks.
This comment was in addition to a recommendation to “turn off all nebulizers and humidifiers” and apparently came after Democratic and Republican staff met with the office of Secretary of State Jesse White along with health officials and environmental consultants. It is worth stating that while preliminary testing did find positive traces of the bacteria in one of the 10 sites around the Capitol that was investigated, the site was in fact the State Armory, which currently remains vacant. In addition, there have been no reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease from state employees at the Capitol.
As such, while it is vital to wait till complete testing is complete, this incident does go to show that there is no replacement for preventative measures. This includes maintaining an up to date and appropriate potable water distribution system which includes regular testing and flushing where needed and scheduled. This kind of advice not only applies to commercial buildings and residential homes, but clearly to veteran homes and governmental buildings as well.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.