Health authorities have confirmed Friday 3 new cases of Legionnaires’ disease bringing the total number to 23 cases in a short period of time. This has raised concern among the authorities since there is not a common source of exposure yet. However, it appears that all the people who have got sick were living in Hopkins. One person has already died.
The Minnesota Health Department considers that community-wide exposure to contaminated water might be the source of infection. The water became aerosolized most likely from a cooling tower. Since the 23 cases of Legionnaires ’ disease include people working and spending time in Hopkins, there have been identified seven locations in the Hopkins area with cooling towers as the possible sources. According to the laws, building owners are responsible for operating the cooling towers.
The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak
The health officials are concerned about the Hopkins outbreak, which began in September and has infected 23 people by now taking already the life of one of them. However, they fear that more cases are reported in the next days since there is a history in the state regarding this health issue. Between 2012 and 2014 there were around 60 reported cases each of the years. And 2016 could get ugly since more than 90 cases have been reported this year so far, according to MDH.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of atypical pneumonia cause by a bacteria called Legionella. The bacteria is found naturally in fresh water, and therefore it can contaminate water tanks, hot tubs and cooling towers. The legionella is spread by breathing in the mist that contains it, or when contaminated water is aspirated. However, it is not contagious, and most of the people who have contact with it don’t get infected.
The disease starts from two to ten days after the infection. About 10% of the infected people die. Currently, the cases of Legionnaires’ disease happening globally is imprecise. It is believed that it causes around 9% of pneumonia cases worldwide. There are around 8000 to 18000 cases each year in the U.S. Additionally, Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are more likely to occur in the summer and fall.
The disease starts two to ten days after the infection. About 10% of the infected people die. Currently, the cases of Legionnaires’ disease happening globally is imprecise. It is believed that it causes around 9% of pneumonia cases worldwide. There are around 8000 to 18000 cases each year in the U.S. Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are more likely to occur in the summer and fall.
Treatment and symptoms
The Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are very likely to those of pneumonia, causing cough, shortness of breath, headaches, muscle pains, and high fever. As well, the patient might experience nausea, vomiting, and even diarrhea. Currently, there is no vaccine, though there are ways to prevent it by maintaining a good water system. As well, people who smoke, people who suffer from chronic lung disease, a poor immune system as well as older people are more likely to get infected. The disease can be tested by blood or urine.
Usually, the treatment of the Legionnaires’ disease is made with antibiotics and hospitalization is often required. Some agents such as fluoroquinolones, azithromycin are recommended. The disease can lead to complications such as respiratory failure or kidney failure, happening when lungs cannot provide enough oxygen and the kidney can’t filter properly waste material in our organism.
Source: Beacon Transcript