September 2, 2015 / 11:56 PM / in 4 years

Death toll in Legionnaires' outbreak in Illinois rises to eight

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has killed an eighth person in Quincy, Illinois, and sickened 41, mostly at a veterans home, health and veterans affairs officials said on Wednesday.

The latest death occurred outside the Illinois Veterans’ Home, the officials said, adding that three others were sickened in the city and six more at the veterans home, the officials said.

There was no evidence the new cases in the city were connected to the outbreak at the veterans home, Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

About 400 people live at the veterans home, the largest and oldest such facility in the state, said Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs spokesman Ryan Yantis.

The outbreak in Quincy, about 240 miles southwest of Chicago, follows recent outbreaks of the respiratory illness that killed a dozen people in New York City and sickened inmates at a California prison.

Legionnaires’ is a severe form of pneumonia caused by inhaling mist infected with the bacteria Legionella. Symptoms include fever, cough, chills and muscle aches.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be transmitted person-to-person, and a person must inhale contaminated water vapor to be infected.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have been working with Illinois veterans and health officials to investigate the latest outbreak.

In New York, an earlier outbreak traced to the historic Opera House Hotel killed 12 people and sickened 128 before it was declared over in August.

Six inmates at San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco have been sickened and 95 inmates there are under observation.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Peter Cooney

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