Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
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Staff at a hotel in Crookston, Minnesota, is working with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to investigate the illnesses of four visitors who were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
Crookston is a town of about 8,000 in northwestern Minnesota, about 25 miles southeast of Grand Forks, North Dakota.
None of the four were guests at the Crookston Inn and Convention Center (2200 University Avenue), but all visited the facility before taking ill between Jan. 22 and Jan. 27. The individuals either attended an event or visited the hotel’s restaurant, University Station.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria, which is contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor.
It’s unknown at this time if the hotel is the source of the illnesses, but MDH investigators are working with hotel staff to determine if Legionella is present at the facility. Early indications point to the hotel’s pool and spa area as a possible source, since whirlpool jets can cause infected water to aerosolize.
Out of an abundance of caution, hotel management has temporarily closed the pool and spa area while it is being remediated, which includes cleaning and decontaminating the entire area.
Health officials said it’s possible other cases associated to the hotel could emerge.
Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease epidemiology, prevention and control at MDH, told the Crookston Times: “If you spent time at the hotel between Jan. 14 and Feb. 13 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 Legionnaire’s disease.”
Visited the facility and feeling ill?
Hotel staff is contacting all guests who were at the hotel between Jan. 14 and Feb. 13 to alert them that they 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 it’s important to seek medical care.
Legionnaires’ disease frequently begins with the following symptoms:
- muscle pains
- fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:
- coughing, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
- shortness of breath
- chest pains
- gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- confusion and other mental changes.
Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart.
A mild form of Legionnaires’ disease — known as Pontiac fever — may produce signs and symptoms including a fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn’t infect the lungs, however, and symptoms usually manifest within two to five days.
Health-care providers alerted
Area health-care providers have been warned by the MDH to watch for patients presenting Legionnaires symptoms. Legionnaires’ disease can be severe and even deadly, so timely diagnosis and treatment are imperative. The illness is not spread from person to person, but it is easily treatable with antibiotics if caught early.
According to the MDH, Minnesota had more than 150 cases in 2018. The department is currently investigating two cases of Legionnaires diagnosed between November and January at Alomere Health in Alexandria.
Most people exposed to Legionella bacteria do not develop Legionnaires’ disease. People over the age of 50, smokers, or those with certain medical conditions – weakened immune systems, diabetes, chronic lung disease or other chronic health conditions – are at increased risk of developing the disease. If you have concerns about possible exposure, you should contact your health-care provider.
After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can occur, including:
- respiratory failure: caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
- septic shock: can occur when Legionella produce toxins that enter the bloodstream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to the loss of adequate blood supply to the organs.
- kidney failure: Legionella toxins can damage the kidneys’ ability to eliminate waste from the blood, resulting in kidney failure.
- endocarditis: an infection of the inner lining of the heart that can affect the ability of the heart to maintain adequate blood flow throughout the body.
- pericarditis: swelling of the pericardium, which is the primary membrane around the heart. This also can affect the ability of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body.
If you have any questions, please contact the MDH by calling (651) 201-5414 or toll-free at (877) 676-5414.