Looking for ways to end Legionnaires’ Disease

Illinois Capitol News

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Lawmakers are about a month into this session over at the Capitol and proposals to improve the state are still swirling around under the dome.

This week, a national group is trying to get the attention of lawmakers when it comes to keeping our water safe. In previous years, Legionnaires’ Disease was front and center after an outbreak at the Veterans Home in Quincy was linked to 15 deaths. Now a group working to end the disease wants to keep Illinois on the right track.

A stone sign marks the Illinois Veterans Home. This facility was home to a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak that was linked to 15 deaths.

The Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease is a national non-profit made up of experts who push for ways to end the spread of the disease. The D.C.- based group said they are in town to educate lawmakers about the potential sources of outbreak.

Group leaders are calling on lawmakers and the public to look at every case of the disease, not just the ones that happen as a group. “We’re focusing on bringing down the number of cases of Legionnaires’ Disease and we’re having a hard time sustaining a focus on policies that actually address all the cases and not just the outbreaks,” said Bradley Considine. “We think the outbreaks lead to poor public policy because they get developed overnight, they’re reactive and they are not comprehensive.” Group officials said 96 percent of cases reported to the CDC are individually spread.

The group said the number of cases has continued to increase statewide over the last five years. However, they also said the problem has picked up nationally and education in the first step to fixing it.

There are several ideas at the Capitol aimed at preventing Legionnaires’ Disease. One bill would require long-term care facilities to prove the facility has provided testing for the disease and reported the results of the Department of Public Health. Another proposal is called the Water Quality Assurance Act, which calls for health care facilities to have programs that control the growth of bacteria or viruses.

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