5 cases of Legionnaires’ disease confirmed in Grand Rapids, Minn.

20 July 2023

ST. PAUL — The state Department of Health is investigating five confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, clustered in Northern Minnesota.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by exposure to the bacteria Legionella, typically spread through aerosolized water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It isn’t generally spread through person-to-person contact, or through drinking contaminated water.

Exposure can cause shortness of breath, fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches, among other symptoms which usually begin within two weeks of exposure. The state health department said Wednesday the five adults all contracted the disease between the end of April and mid-July.

All are residents of Grand Rapids, or spent time there during the two weeks before their illness began.

State officials have not yet identified the source of the bacteria. According to the release, “past outbreaks have been linked to various environmental water sources such as cooling towers, building plumbing systems, hot tubs and decorative fountains.”

All five of the people who contracted the disease were hospitalized, Minnesota authorities said, and no deaths have occurred to date.

While not everyone who is exposed to the bacteria becomes sick, those who are 50 years and older, have chronic health conditions, as well as current or former smokers, are at increased risk.

State officials are urging people who have symptoms, or are concerned, to reach out to their health care provider. The state is also asking providers to watch for any patients with symptoms.

Typically, Legionnaires’ cases are not found in clusters. The state says there were 109 Minnesota cases of the illness reported last year.


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