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Legionnaires’ Disease at Piatt County Nursing Home Linked to Death of Resident

Posted in Legionella,Legionnaire's disease,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on April 25, 2024

Legionnaires’ disease at Piatt County Nursing Home linked to death of resident.

A resident of Piatt County Nursing Home in Monticello, Illinois died after contracting Legionnaires’ disease. The investigation is ongoing.

Illinois Department of Public Health Issues Statement about Legionnaires’ Disease at Piatt County Nursing Home

The resident, who was brought to a local hospital for care, was diagnosed with the serious illness, Legionnaires’ disease. Legionnaires’ disease cases, particularly those associated with a healthcare or nursing home settings, almost always prompt an investigation.

After notification of the illness, state and local health officials inspected the facility and took samples. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued the following statement:

“IDPH was made aware last week of a single case of Legionnaires’ disease believed to be linked to the Piatt County Nursing Home. IDPH and local health officials arrived the next day to assess the facility. Final testing is still pending, but in the meantime, the nursing home has taken precautionary measures, including installation of hand-washing stations, adding filters to the water system where possible, and discontinuing use of fixtures where filters have not been added. We continue to monitor the situation.”

— Illinois Department of Public Health

Facility Executive Director Responds to Legionnaires’ Disease at Piatt County Nursing Home Death

Executive Director of Piatt County Nursing Home, Scott Porter explains that the facility is cooperating with state and local health departments in response to the death of one of their residents.

According to Porter, there have been no additional verified cases at the nursing home.

In the meantime, the facility is opting for bottled water for drinking and has added additional filters on other water sources at the facility.

Preliminary Tests Reveal Traces of Legionella Bacteria in the Facility’s Water System

Porter indicated that preliminary test results showed trace amounts of Legionella bacteria in the facility’s water system. Additional testing showed no trace of the harmful bacteria in the incoming water from the city of Monticello water supply.

Piatt County Nursing Home awaits full results, expected to be available soon, to create a plan for moving forward with mitigation efforts.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is the illness associated with Legionella bacterial infection. Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria found in freshwater such as lakes, rivers, and streams. It is rare to become sick when exposed in this environment. The problem, however, occurs when the bacteria grow in man-made areas where it can be breathed into the lungs causing a pneumonia-type illness.

Common Sources of Legionnaires’ Disease

Any water holding vessel or system can promote the growth of Legionella bacteria. Fixtures that create aerosols spread it into the environment.

Common sources include:

  • Hot water tanks and heaters
  • Large, complex plumbing systems
  • Plumbing systems under construction, such as those with dead legs
  • Cooling towers, such as those as part of centralized air-cooling systems for large buildings or industrial processes. (Home air-conditioners are not a risk for Legionella growth because they do not use water to cool the air.)

In rare cases, Legionella bacteria can grow in the windshield washer fluid tank of cars, trucks, and buses. But only if water is used to fill the vessel and not windshield washer fluid.

Common fixtures that facilitate water aerosolization include:

  • Hot tubs
  • Shower heads and sink faucets
  • Decorative fountains and water features.

In extremely rare cases, people can become sick from drinking water. Not by consuming the water, but by accidentally taking the bacteria into the lungs instead of swallowing it. People with swallowing difficulties or have higher risk of aspiration are more likely to contract the illness in this way than others.

Who Is at Greater Risk of Legionnaires’ Disease Infection?

Certain groups of people are more likely to become sick if exposed. These are also the people more likely to experience severe symptoms.

Age can be a factor when it comes to Legionnaires’ disease risk. People over 50 years of age are included in the higher risk category.

Also, those with existing lung issues – including current or former smokers. People with chronic lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema are also included in the higher risk category.

Those with a weakened immune system are also at increased risk of becoming sick after exposure. People with a weakened immune system, those taking medications to weaken the immune system (like after a transplant or chemotherapy), and people with cancer are included in this higher risk category.

Underlying illnesses can also increase the risk of infection. Diabetes, kidney failure, and liver failure also increase this risk.

Recent hospital stays can also increase the risk.

Have You Been Exposed to Legionnaires’ Disease at Piatt County Nursing Home in Monticello?

Have you been exposed to Legionnaires’ disease at Piatt County Nursing Home? If you are in the higher risk group, there are several things you should consider.

Monitor for Legionnaires’ Disease Symptoms

If you have been exposed to Legionnaires’ disease at Piatt County Nursing Home, you should monitor for symptoms for 2 weeks after your potential exposure.

Common symptoms include typical pneumonia symptoms such as acute onset of lower respiratory illness with fever and/or cough.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Muscle aches/pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Chest discomfort
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

Notify Your Healthcare Provider If You Experience Legionnaires’ Disease Symptoms

If you experience Legionnaires’ disease symptoms, notify your healthcare provider. Prompt medical care and indicating potential exposure risks can expedite specific treatment for Legionnaires’ disease. This could dramatically impact your outcome for recovery.

Legionnaires’ disease is often undiagnosed, as it presents symptoms similar to other pneumonia type illnesses. It can even appear indistinguishable on a chest x-ray.

Contact a Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyer

If you have become sick with Legionnaires’ disease at Piatt County Nursing Home, consider contacting a Legionnaires’ disease lawyer.

The experienced Legionnaires’ disease lawyers at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC have represented many families with Legionnaires’ disease cases. Their knowledgeable team has recovered millions of dollars to help families and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

Call (833) 330-3663 or email here for a free consultation.

By: Heather Van Tassell (contributing writer, non-lawyer)