Quincy News

Agencies report spike in respiratory illlnesses at Illinois Veterans Home

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 17, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs and Illinois Department of Public Health are investigating nine confirmed communicable respiratory illnesses and three possible illnesses among residents of the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.

The Adams County Health Department also is assisting in the investigation to identify and mitigate possible sources of the respiratory illnesses.

Legionella is not suspected as the cause, according to a joint press release issued Friday by the two state agencies. Legionella was previously blamed for a series of Legionnaires' disease outbreaks at the home from 2015 to 2018 when at least 13 people died and dozens of others were sickened.

Friday's report said symptoms of respiratory illness were exhibited by residents between July 24 and Aug. 10. Investigative findings suggest a common bacterial or viral cause, which tends to occur with greater frequency at this time of year because of a seasonal uptick.

According to the press release, the Illinois Veterans Home has alerted all patients, family and staff about the rise in the number of respiratory illnesses. The IDPH is providing guidance on clinical testing, infection control and steps to implement to safeguard everyone at the home.

"Our first concern is the safety and well-being of our state's veteran heroes," said Linda Chapa LaVia, acting director of the ?Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs.

"We notified the residents, their families, and our employees, in addition to posting the notification and updates as new cases have been confirmed at the facility and on our website," she said. "We continue to work with IDPH and the Adams County Health Department to investigate the root cause and ensure our residents continue to receive the utmost care."

All IDVA illness notifications may be found at veterans.illinois.gov.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the health, safety and high quality of life for the residents remains the "highest priority" for the IDPH.

"We will continue to support (the Illinois Veterans Home) and work with local partners to identify the cause and implement necessary interventions," he said.