Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at the Days Inn of Casselton, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) and Fargo Cass Public Health are investigating three cases of Legionnaires’ disease connected to a hotel water park in Casselton, a town of about 2,300 in Cass County 25 miles west of Fargo.

All three people who became ill reported spending time at the Days Inn of Casselton, but none were overnight guests. All of them, however, reported using the hotel’s spa.

Spas often are associated with outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease because of their propensity to aerosolize Legionella bacteria in small water droplets, which are then inhaled into the lungs. (Legionnaires’ disease – sometimes called legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection caused by Legionella, or Legionella pneumophila.)

Environmental samples, including water and sand filter samples, were collected from the hotel on Jan. 8-9, and one sample from the spa filter tested positive for Legionella. After the spa was cleaned and disinfected, a second sample collected Jan. 31 was clear of the bacteria, but a third sample collected Feb. 13 showed that Legionella had returned.

Officials of the hotel, located at 2050 Governors Drive, closed the spa until further notice, and they are continuing remediation efforts. The hotel’s pool remains open.

Exhibiting symptoms?
If you were a hotel guest, work at the hotel, or visited the facility this month and are feeling ill, you may have been exposed to Legionella. The illness typically develops within two to 10 days after exposure, and symptoms can resemble the common flu, which is why the NDDoH urges you to seek medical care.

“If you spent time at the hotel, especially in the water park area, between Feb. 7 and 21 and are ill with undiagnosed pneumonia or you develop symptoms in the two weeks following your visit, please see a health-care provider to be evaluated for possible Legionnaires’ disease,” Laura Cronquist, epidemiologist with the NDDoH, told the Bismarck Tribune. “There are no recommendations to prevent illness once people have been exposed to Legionella bacteria. Instead, the focus is on rapid diagnosis and treatment, if people develop symptoms after a possible exposure.”

Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are similar to those of other types of pneumonia, and they can resemble symptoms of influenza (flu), including:

  • people 50 years of age or older
  • smokers, both current and former
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with compromised immune systems
  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

How are Legionella spread?
The outbreak at the Days Inn of Casselton is the second this month for a hotel in the Red River Valley. Four people who visited the Crookston Inn and Convention Center in Crookston, Minnesota – about 85 miles northeast of Casselton – also were confirmed with the disease.

Legionella is naturally found in water, especially warm water. Hot tubs or spas that are not cleaned and disinfected often enough can become contaminated with Legionella. A person can get infected by the bacteria when they breathe in steam or mist from a contaminated hot tub or spa.

Warm, stagnant water provides ideal conditions for growth, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The organism can multiply at temperatures between 68 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and temps of 90 degrees to 105 degrees are optimal for that to occur.

How can you avoid it?
If you are going to stay at a facility with a hot tub or spa, here are some questions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you ask before your visit to ensure your safety and the safety of your family and friends:

  • What was the most recent health inspection score for the hot tub/spa?
  • Are disinfectant and pH levels checked at least twice per day?
  • Are disinfectant and pH levels checked more often when the hot tub/spa is being used by a lot of people?
  • Are the following maintenance activities performed regularly:
    • Removal of the slime or biofilm layer by scrubbing and cleaning?
    • Replacement of the hot tub water filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations?
    • Replacement of hot tub water?

Where else do Legionella live?
The bacteria are found primarily in human-made environments, such as swimming pools, whirlpools, and hot tubs, but they also can be found in:

  • water systems of large buildings (hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.)
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.