Health officials are currently investigating five new cases of Legionnaire’s disease in Hopkins, a suburbia in Minneapolis. The patients started feeling ill between August 4 and September 1. All of the sufferers who are over the age of 50 were hospitalized and two of them have already recovered.
The Minnesota Department of Health and Hennepin County are currently trying to figure out the cause of the outbreak.
Legionnaire’s illness is a type of unusual pneumonia induced by any Legionella bacteria. Symptoms commonly include shortness of breath, cough, headaches and high fever.
Moreover, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting could also be among the signs of the disease. Legionella bacteria is usually found in fresh waters. However, it could corrupt hot tubs, hot water tanks, and large air conditioners. The illness is spread by breathing in vapors that carry the bacteria. It could also be caught by aspirating contaminated water.
Individuals who are exposed to the bacteria do not always get infected, and the disease is not typically spread directly between people.
The risk factors for this disease include a history of smoking, older age, poor immune function, and chronic lung disease. Although there is no discovered vaccine for this illness, prevention highly depends on the proper preservation of water systems.
The incubation period for this infection which represents the time from exposure to the bacteria to the onset of symptoms is somewhere between 2-14 days.
Minnesota usually encountered 50 to 60 cases of Legionnaire’s disease a year. Because, until now, more than 60 cases of the illness have been reported in the state, officials have announced a national rise in cases in 2016. Around 63 recorded cases of the disease occurred in 2014 in Washington which brought eight deaths.
According to health officials, one of the two patients diagnosed with the illness who was also linked at the University of Washington Medical Center to cardiac units has passed away. However, the patient’s medical record did not mention Legionnaire’s as the primary cause of death although it profoundly contributed to the sufferer’s death.
The authorities in Hopkins have declared that the city’s water reservoirs are reliable.
The illness was named after the Pennsylvania American Legion conference that was held in Philadelphia in 1976.
Image source: Wikipedia