An investigation by Chicago public radio station WBEZ discovered that the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at Illinois Veterans Home has been ongoing since July 2015.
The first deadly outbreak in 2015 sickened dozens of residents and killed 12 people. Despite $6.4 million of state water-treatment investments, there were two more outbreaks in 2016 and 2017.
The outbreak in 2017 sickened at least 6 residents, including 1 resident who died. The coroner attributed a Legionella infection as a contributing factor to the Korean war veteran’s death.
A lawsuit has been filed by the families of 11 residents who died in the 2015 outbreak, accusing the state of Illinois of negligence. They say public health officials delayed warning the public for about a week.
In December 2017, one water test was positive for Legionella out of 48 samples that were taken from water sources at the Illinois Veterans Home.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia (lung infection) that is caused by Legionella bacteria. The bacteria is common in water sources, especially large buildings with complex water systems.
Infections occur when people breathe Legionella bacteria into their lungs on droplets of water — usually from showers, fountains, hot tubs, pools, heating and air conditioning systems, or cooling towers.