MDH: 9 confirmed Legionnaires' disease cases in Hopkins

- The Minnesota Department of Health said Friday that 9 cases of Legionnaires' disease have now been confirmed in Hopkins, Minn. – an increase from the 6 confirmed cases on Wednesday.

The confirmed cases involved people ranging from their 20s to 90s. Ages range from 20s to 90s. Most were hospitalized and some are still hospitalized, but there have been no deaths to date. The patients either live or work within a two-mile radius of central Hopkins.

The health department expects the number of confirmed cases to increase, due to the long incubation period for Legionnaires’ disease and the difficulty in diagnosing the disease. Incubation of Legionnaires' ranges from 2 to 10 days. It often presents itself as pneumonia or another severe respiratory disease and doctors don’t always test for Legionella, or if they do, it may take time for a positive test to show up.

The Minnesota Department of Health continues to work with Hennepin County Public Health and Hopkins city officials to identify potential sources for the outbreak. There could be multiple sources for this outbreak, and investigators may never identify a single source.

Officials say cooling units on large buildings can be a source. Investigators were looking at SuperValu, a business called Thermotech, a fountain at Cargill and other smaller buildings in the area. Another possible source for the spread are misters that spray water, like at grocery stores or restaurants.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Legionnaires' disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Legionella pneumophila, which is found in water. The disease is not spread person-to-person, but by inhaling fine spray or aerosols from water that contains the bacteria.

The city's water is safe and is not the cause.

People older than 50 years old, smokers, and those with weakened immune systems or chronic lung problems have an increased risk of developing Legionnaires'.

For more information about Legionnaires' disease, click here.

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