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Grand Rapids Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Source Identified

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Grand Rapids Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak Source Identified

(CTN News) – Officials from the Minnesota Department of Health announced Monday that they had identified the source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in northern Minnesota.

Testing conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health indicates that parts of the Grand Rapids water system are the source of the contamination.

There have been fourteen cases of the disease identified in the area since last April, 11 of whom have been hospitalized. The incident has not resulted in any deaths.

The Health Department takes this situation very seriously, according to Jessica Hancock-Allen, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division of the Department of Health.

The majority of individuals exposed to Legionella bacteria do not develop Legionnaires’ disease, but if you experience any symptoms of pneumonia, such as coughing, shortness of breath, fever, or headache, you should contact your health care provider immediately.

The majority of cases can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but it is important to obtain a prompt diagnosis and to administer the appropriate course of antibiotic treatment.”

A plan for flushing and disinfecting the water system is currently being developed by Grand Rapids Public Utilities.

The health department is working in partnership with the local water utility to determine the best course of action, according to Tom Hogan, director of the health department’s Environmental Health Division. We plan to conduct additional water sampling, and the results will be analyzed and used to inform future actions and communications.

According to the state Legionnaires health department, Grand Rapids is one of the few community water systems in Minnesota that do not chlorinate their water. It is because some systems that draw their water from groundwater sources, such as community wells, are not required to add disinfectants.”

It is not feasible to add chlorination as soon as possible, according to Julie Kennedy, general manager of Grand Rapids Public Utilities.

The process of introducing chlorination to an unchlorinated system is complex, so our approach must be methodical in order to avoid any additional health, safety, or distribution system complications.

In the course of developing plans, Kennedy said that the utility will provide updates to customers.

Legionnaires disease occurs when Legionella bacteria are exposed to the body. Health officials say the disease is spread through the inhalation of water mist, such as from a shower. There is no risk of infection from drinking water, according to officials, and the disease cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

134 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported in Minnesota in 2023, including six deaths.

According to the state health department, most people who are exposed to Legionella bacteria do not develop Legionnaires’ disease. People who are older than 50 years of age and those who smoke or have smoked in the past have a higher risk of infection and serious illness.

Chronic health conditions, such as kidney, liver, or lung disease; diabetes; cancer; and conditions and medications that affect the immune system are also risk factors.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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