QUINCY, Ill. (AP) – The number of confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease cases at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy reached 23, an Adams County Health Department official announced.

Adams County Health Department Director of Clinical and Environmental Services Director Shay Drummond made the announcement based on laboratory tests conducted Friday. On Thursday, state officials said there were eight confirmed cases among residents of the home. No deaths have been connected with the disease, which can be especially devastating to older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems.

Legionnaires’ disease is not transmitted from person to person, with most people getting the disease from inhaling the Legionella bacteria. Drummond said. It is caused when water tainted with Legionella bacteria is inhaled into the lungs.

The veterans’ home has been working with the health department, the Illinois Department of Public Health, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Blessing Hospital, Drummond said.

“Environmental control and mediation has been ongoing since Monday,” Drummond said.

Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal in 5 to 30 percent of the 18,000 reported U.S. cases each year, according to Drummond. It’s a severe form of pneumonia, with lung inflammation usually caused by infection.

Drummond tells WGEM-TV the health department is recommending elderly people and anyone who’s sick or has immunity issues should not visit the home. Those groups are most vulnerable to the disease.

The source of the disease is still to be determined, but Drummond said the health department is confident it’s contained to the veterans’ home.

“The Legionella bacteria can be found anywhere, but it’s usually in small doses that won’t make you sick,” Drummond said. “But when a cluster of people get sick like this, it’s very likely there’s one source point.”

Drummond said they hope to the find the source when environmental sampling results come in next week.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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