Illinois to replace vets' plumbing amid Legionnaire's crisis

A map showing the grounds of the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy

Nirav Shah appears on "Chicago Tonight" on January 4, 2018 to discuss the state's opioid epidemic.

Illinois lawmakers are seeking reassurance from the Rauner Administration that everything is being done to prevent another Legionnaires' disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, which has killed 13 people since 2015. "I'm impressed. I might even vote for him", Jardine said.

According to the CDC, people can contract Legionnaire's disease if they breathe in small droplets of water containing the bacteria legionella, which is found naturally in freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams.

As the hearing was underway, Rauner was in the midst of an extended stay at the Quincy home in what his team has described as an attempt to learn more about the problem.

"Eradication of biofilm is virtually impossible", Posner said of the substance Legionnaires' bacteria forms, most often in water pipes.

"There is not a requirement Rep. Frese, it is when we feel we are ready to receive onsite assistance", Nirav Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), said, adding immediately after August 21, 2015, when the first two cases of Legionella death were confirmed, the CDC was contacted. He discussed changes made to keep the home safe, like chemical treatments for the water, flushing pipes regularly, strictly monitoring residents, and speeding up testing for the disease from four days to a few hours.

"All of that time spent in that six days was to ensure that before information was released that we knew what we were talking about", Jeffries said. Posner said he agreed with the actions taken by the state agencies and that he thought they'd done "an outstanding job" developing a water program to minimize risk of water being contaminated with the bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new report that the possibility of future cases can not be eliminated.

The governor opposes closing the home; McCann says he thinks the state should build a new facility in the same location. A visit or a sit-down conversation on this issue with the staff would show a great deal of support for Quincy and one of its most valuable residences.


"If this is how the facility is at 100 years how do we expect it to last for another hundred?"

Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Jeffries says "We continue to find more cases because we are looking for more cases".

Democratic Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park is chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

During a joint House and Senate veterans affairs committee hearing Tuesday in Chicago, lawmakers asked veterans affairs and public health officials about what is being done to deal with a Legionnaires' outbreak that began in 2015.

"We're taking no option off the table", Jeffries said.

Posner was joined by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah and Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Jeffries in testifying at the four-hour long hearing that came on the heels of Gov. Bruce Rauner checked into the facility January 3 and meeting with U.S. Sen.

Rauner has defended the state's response.

The governor is expected to return Wednesday from a stay at the home that his opponents characterize as a "publicity stunt".

Rauner moved into the home in Quincy after the first of the year.

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