7 dead in Legionnaires' outbreak at Quincy veterans home

QUINCY (STMW) - Seven residents at a downstate veterans’ living facility have died after an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

They were among 39 people diagnosed with the disease at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Quincy is about 100 miles west of Springfield on the state border with Missouri.

The residents who died all had “underlying medical conditions,” health officials said.

“Unfortunately, we expect to see additional cases, and possibly additional deaths, because this incubation period for Legionnaires’ disease can be up to two weeks, and because patients with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of more severe illness,” IDPH Director Nirav Shad said in a statement.

Test results are pending for other residents. Legionnaires’ is a form of pneumonia that is transmitted through mist or water vapor, according to the health department.

On Sunday, the department requested aid from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and specialists were sent to investigate the outbreak.

“While saddened by the loss of our residents, having been at the home and talking with the staff and our residents, I am impressed with their resilience and spirit,” Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries said in the statement.