UPDATE: 'Possible Presence' of Legionella In Illinois Statehouse Complex

Jan 23, 2018

Update: February 7, 2018 - A memo sent out to all Capitol Complex employees detailed Legionella bacteria testing came back positive in four of the 300 preliminary test results. The memo says tests are ongoing and final results are expected to come out in another two weeks.

According to Dave Druker, spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office, two of the positive tests came from the Computer Center at 201 West Adams. A women's bathroom in the Howlett Building also tested positive. Druker says a flushing program has been ongoing there since before these results came out. The fourth positive test came from the Capitol building's south end, where a humidifier has been shut off as a precaution. Another set of 300 test results are expected to come out in about fourteen days. 

  

Legionella bacteria, which has created problems for an Illinois veterans home in Quincy, might be present at the State Capitol Complex. Initial water tests from a burst pipe showed the presence of Legionella DNA. But until additional test results come out, state officials are saying it’s safe for employees and visitors to continue their daily routine.

Officials are advising employees to use a "pencil-sized" stream of water when washing their hands and turn off all nebulizers and humidifiers.  Legionnaires’ disease can occur when inhaling mist or vapors from water that contains the bacteria.

Henry Haupt, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office - which oversees the Capitol Complex, says notifying workers and following expert advice are only precautionary measures. “It’s safe to come to work, it’s safe to be in the buildings. It’s safe to drink the water and to wash your hands," he says. 

A memo went out Monday night to employees letting them know Legionnaires' disease can’t be spread person-to-person or by drinking contaminated water.

A memo went out Monday night to employees letting them know Legionnaires' disease can’t be spread person-to-person or by drinking contaminated water.
Credit Secretary of State

Melaney Arnolds, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health, says the agency has advised the Secretary of State to develop a water management plan and create a water management team to reduce risk. Examples of possible plans include flushing pipes as well as increasing the hot water temperature.  According to Arnolds, a second round of testing has been done. This "involves incubation to see if the bacteria grow" - which takes about fourteen days, she says.

Legionella bacteria has created problems for the state-run veterans home in Quincy, where 13 people have died in the last few years. 

  

 

M E M O R A N D U M

TO:                 All Capitol Complex State Employees

FROM:          Mike Wojcik, Director of Physical Services, Secretary of State
Trey Childress, Deputy Governor & Chief Operating Officer

SUBJECT:      Water Testing for Legionella Bacteria

DATE:            January 22, 2018

Out of an abundance of caution and because of heightened awareness and continued misconceptions about Legionnaires’ disease, we want to make you aware of preliminary test results that indicate the possible presence of Legionella bacteria in the Capitol Complex hot water system. This is the bacteria that can cause Legionnaires’ disease. We are not aware of any reports of Legionnaires’ disease among Springfield state employees or the general public. 

More testing is required and is currently underway. Results should be available in approximately 14 days. In the meantime, we have been advised by experts that the transmission of this bacteria in normal, day-to-day office operations is unlikely. 

Legionnaires’ disease is typically contracted by inhaling mist or vapor from a water source contaminated with the bacteria. The disease is not contracted by drinking water and is not spread person-to-person. Nonetheless, steps are being taken by the Secretary of State’s Physical Services Department, including advising against the use of the few showers and removing aerators in the Capitol Complex as necessary. 

The health and safety of state employees and visitors is our top priority. We will pass along relevant updates as they become available.

For more information regarding Legionella bacteria, please visit the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/legionellosis.