Illinois veterans home replacing water system after outbreak

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — The state veterans' home where a summer Legionnaire's disease outbreak led to 12 deaths and sickened more than 40 others is replacing its water systems and making other emergency repairs.

The estimated $4.8 million worth of repairs at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy include the installation of a new water main and other water lines at the 129-year-old facility, the (Quincy) Herald-Whig reported Monday.

A garage is being converted into a chemical treatment station. Mixing valves will be installed in a hot water system that will be heated to higher temperatures. Disinfection equipment, backflow valves and other upgrades will be added to the cold water system to prevent bacterial growth.

The home has also been approved for more than $24.6 million in operating funds under a legislative compromise signed into law this month. That money had been withheld until this month due to the Illinois budget impasse.

A state spokeswoman said the work should be complete by April. Illinois officials hope to receive reimbursements of up to 65 percent of the new construction costs from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Legionnaires' disease is transmitted by breathing vapor or mist from contaminated water systems.

The elderly residents who died had underlying health conditions that made them more vulnerable to infection to the severe form of pneumonia. Their average age was 88.

The 129-year-old facility is the state's oldest and largest home for veterans and their spouses with 400 residents living on 210 acres with more than 40 buildings.

During the Legionnaire's outbreak, the home shut down water sources and used bottled water for cooking, drinking and sponge baths.


Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig,