DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SAYS LEGIONNAIRES DISEASE IS COMMON EVEN AT HOME

The Minnesota Department of Health is investing reports of Legionnaires Disease at the Crookston Inn and Convention Center and KROX contacted the department to find out more about the disease.

The Department of Health receives reports from doctors about bacteria and other infections that are found when treating patients.  By receiving multiple reports from the Crookston area over a short amount of time they began looking for common connections between the cases said Doug Schultz, Minnesota Department of Health Communications. “Typically, the way this happens is that someone is ill and they go to their doctor,” said Schultz.  “The doctor is astute enough to think the patient may have Legionella.  Typically, the patient is fairly serious because they had pneumonia that can’t be cured by other antibiotics.  Samples are then sent to us and when we get two cases or more within a short amount of time it indicates something may be going on.  We found that the four cases all had something in common and that was they had spent some time at the Crookston Conference Center.”  

Schultz explains that multiple rounds of taking water samples will occur, although results won’t be available for several weeks.  “We work with the hotel to look at the different aspects of the water system to make sure that they are clean or in good order,” said Schultz.  “The evidence we had strongly indicated to us the most likely source was the spa.  We quite often see Legionella cases arising from exposure to the mist from a spa.  We would work with the hotel to get that cleaned.  We did a round of testing before it was clean and I think we may have also taken some samples from the pool to see in Legionella was in there. And then we’ll take another couple of samples after it’s been cleaned to see if things are okay.”

Legionella is very common and water, and can even be contracted within the home said, Schultz. “Legionella is very ubiquitous in the environment and in water but it typically occurs when water has been sitting awhile in pipes and then mists up,” said Schultz. “You can get it in your home if you’re gone for a number of weeks and then run your hot shower.  It typically comes from stagnant water or situations where a pool or spa hasn’t been cleaned for a while. So we work with the owners of facilities to try to help them understand what they can do to make their facilities better and reduce the risk of Legionella.”