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Legionnaires’ Diagnosis in Manteno

An individual in Illinois who was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease on Tuesday, January 4th has now passed away. The individual was a resident of the Illinois Veterans Home in Manteno.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia and is caused by a bacteria called ‘legionella’. The disease can develop anywhere from two to ten days after exposure to legionella. This disease primarily affects the lungs, but it can also cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart. When untreated, Legionnaires’ can be fatal, and it is extremely important to seek treatment immediately if infected. The disease cannot be contracted from person-to-person contact, but rather when people breathe in small droplets of contaminated water in the air. An example of this would be an individual breathing in steam from a shower that is using a contaminated water supply. About 1 in 10 people who are infected with the disease ultimately die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As a result, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs began notifying all residents and staff members in the Illinois Veterans Home. Because the Legionella bacteria is commonly spread through airborne water droplets, they immediately started water safety remediation response pre-plans, including flushing and heat-treating its potable water systems. Along with this, the water is being tested and thermally eradicated in order to ensure the water supply in the facility was no longer contaminated.

Unfortunately, this is not the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs first encounter with the disease. In 2015, the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy experienced a major outbreak, with 46 confirmed cases; 35 residents, six staff members, and five community members. There have been 13 deaths since 2015. It is believed that the state of Illinois was negligent in its upkeep of veterans homes where the outbreaks occurred. At least a dozen lawsuits were filed against the IDVA, including a case in 2017 where the son of a resident died as a result of contracting the disease. Due to the outbreak in Quincy, Governor Bruce Rauner recommended that the facility be rebuilt, which would cost approximately $200 million dollars.

Since the legionella-linked death that occurred at the Illinois Veterans Home (IVH) in Manteno, US Senators Tammy Duckworth (IL) and Dick Durbin (IL) have been working to ensure safer environments at IVH facilities. The two have requested a multidisciplinary team of experts to assist state officials as they address the disease at the IVH in Manteno. Both Senators wrote to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requesting that they join in the Legionnaires’ Task Force which was recently established by Governor J.B. Pritzker. Last January and March, Duckworth and Durbin wrote to former governor Bruce Rauner, requesting a plan of action for the safety of residents and staff at IVH Quincy. Their letter stated, “The tragic death of a veteran that may have resulted from Legionnaires’ disease acquired while living at IVH Manteno is a sobering reminder of the need to marshal public resources to urgently address the daunting public health challenge posed by Legionella contamination.” The two hope to have a plan in place to better prevent outbreaks in the future and ensure the safety of residents.

Unfortunately, this disease is sometimes the result of negligence. When hospitals, senior homes, health care facilities, and other entities fail to keep their water systems free of bacteria, they are putting patients and residents at risk of contracting the fatal disease. It is the responsibility of these facilities to ensure that their water systems are safe and clean for their residents, and there is no excuse when they fail to do so. If you or a loved one has been affected by negligent behaviors of a health care facility and contracted a disease such as Legionnaires’ as a result, you may be entitled to compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Spiros Law P.C. will fight to make sure the responsible parties are held accountable while providing you with the justice that you deserve. Contact us at 815-929-9292 to discuss your situation today.