January 29, 2018 — The families of 11 war veterans who died of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home during an outbreak in July 2015 have filed a lawsuit.
The outbreak infected at least 61 residents and visitors to the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, Illinois. Eleven residents and 1 visitor died.
The long-term care facility for veterans suffered additional outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in 2016 and 2017, despite $6.4 million in upgrades to the historic building’s water-treatment infrastructure.
The outbreak in 2017 caused Legionella infections in 6 residents, including a Korean War veteran who died. The coroner determined that Legionnaires’ was a contributing factor in the death.
In December 2017 — yet again — a water sample from the Illinois Veterans Home tested positive for Legionella. Soon afterward, the families of 11 veterans who died filed lawsuits against the state of Illinois for failing to provide residents with a clean, safe water supply.
Furthermore, the families were upset because state officials waited 1 week to warn the public of the outbreak after finding Legionella.
Healthy people have a low risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease, but people with underlying illnesses — especially older adults at long-term care facilities — have a significantly higher risk of the disease.
Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection (bacterial pneumonia) that is caused by breathing Legionella bacteria in water droplets in the air. Legionella is commonly found in water. Outbreaks are often linked to showers, fountains, hot tubs, air-conditioning, or cooling towers, especially in old buildings with complex water systems.
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