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Illinois health department website has incorrect Legionnaires' data

12 January 2018

"What we require is that every facility have a water management plan in place", Shah said, adding if sites do test for Legionella they are encouraged to follow proper protocol after detection.

But the sad news, the senator was told by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Associate Director for Epidemiological Science Sam Posner at the hearing on the 13 deaths since 2015 at the the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, is that the disease can not be stopped. It doesn't spread from person to person; rather, it is born and spread through mist or water.

Erica Jeffries, director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, stressed that crews have overhauled the facility's water handling system and can now test the water more quickly - specifically for legionella bacteria. "I'm impressed. I might even vote for him", Jardine said.

Before alerting the public, she and Shah briefed leadership, immediately began remediation on the water supply, educated the staff and took vital signs of all residents, Jeffries said.

Others were more pointed with their criticism.

Republican Sen. Sam McCann of Plainview criticized Shah in a legislative hearing Tuesday because he doesn't have Gov. Bruce Rauner's cell phone number.

Gov. Bruce Rauner checked into the facility January 3 to stay a few nights and met with U.S. Sen. The governor has defended his administration's handling of the outbreak, and his Twitter account on Tuesday repeated numerous arguments made by Shah and Jeffries during the hearing.

"There needs to be replacement for each faucet around the home", Sudderfield said.

Jeffries said that over the course of several months after residents and their families were notified of the outbreak, just six residents chose to leave the home and "none of them, save one, maybe, made a decision to leave the home because of the Legionnaires' incident". She said care at the facility "was so good that (relatives) wanted their family members to stay there".

Posner says there were 6,000 cases of Legionnaires' nationally a year ago.

In 2016, two volunteers and three residents had symptoms of the disease. In 2017, five residents were sickened by the disease and one died.

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego questioned Shah about the timeline of the announcement. Certainly, all of us want to use every precaution to make sure all of our residents living in our facilities get the premium service and care they deserve.

"We have to be careful what we can reveal", Shah confirmed. "As you have heard Director Jeffries mention, and I concur, because they are much more aggressive about looking for it more than other health care facilities, it is inevitable they will find it".

The CDC declared in a report last week that eliminating the bacteria from the home's water is unlikely. "We need a new, state-of-the-art facility". Center for Disease Control Dr. Sam Posner said that would be considered an epidemic. 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. Posner said he's seen cases of Legionella being present in water systems for up to 20 years.

Illinois health department website has incorrect Legionnaires' data