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Resident of Manteno Veterans’ Home who contracted Legionnaires’ disease has died

Cadets from the Naval Station Great Lakes visit with vets who live at the Veteran's Home in Manteno, during a Christmas Day feast on Tuesday December 25, 2012. | Sun-Times file photo.

A resident of a home for veterans in Manteno who contracted Legionnaires’ disease has died, a source in the Pritzker administration confirmed Wednesday evening.

The resident’s death is believed to be the first fatal case of Legionnaires’ disease at a veterans home in the state since Gov. J.B. Pritzker was sworn into office.

Officials announced earlier this month that a single case of Legionnaires’ disease was identified in a resident at the Manteno Veterans’ Home, which is run by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, according to a Jan. 8 statement published on the state’s website.

The department was alerted to the case by hospital medical staff that the resident had tested positive for the illness, the statement said.

Legionnaires’ disease is spread by a person inhaling small water droplets that contain the bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreaks of the disease are most commonly associated with buildings or structures with complex water systems, including cruise ships, hotels, hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Generally, the bacteria does not affect healthy people after exposure, but those older than 50 or who have weak immune systems are at greater risk of becoming infected, according to the CDC.

Veterans’ Affairs Director Stephen Curda told staff to notify all residents, their next of kin and/or their power of attorneys of the case when it was discovered, according to the statement. The department also activated a water safety response plan, which includes testing the water and checking residents’ vital signs more often.

Thirteen residents died and dozens of others were sickened after a 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the veterans’ home in Quincy. Gov. Bruce Rauner faced heavy criticism for not immediately alerting residents or the public.

A spokesperson for the Kankakee County coroner’s office was not immediately available to provide additional information or to confirm the death Wednesday night.

The AP contributed reporting to this story.