(Reuters) - Seven people have died and 32 sickened in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a veterans home in Quincy, Illinois, state veterans and health officials said in a statement on Tuesday.
The seven residents who died had underlying medical conditions, the statement said, adding that results are pending from tests to determine whether other residents have contracted the disease.
Nearly 450 people call the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy home, and it is the largest and oldest veterans home in the state, the home’s website said.
The outbreak in Quincy, located about 240 miles southwest of Chicago, follows recent outbreaks of the respiratory illness that killed a dozen people in New York City and has 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.
“Unfortunately, we expect to see additional cases and possibly additional deaths because the incubation period for Legionnaires’ disease can be up to two weeks, and because patients with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of more severe illness,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah said.
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.
Also in August, California officials were determining the origin of a Legionnaires’ outbreak at San Quentin State Prison that had sickened at least five inmates and left dozens more under observation.
Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Susan Heavey