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Source Of Legionnaire’s Disease Under Investigation

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Confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Hopkins, Minnesota have officials investigating its source, CBS reports.

Five residents of Hopkins have contracted the disease between August and September, all of them older than 50. Three of the patients are still in the hospital, while the other two have received treatment and been released.

Legionella bacteria that thrives in soil and water in storage tanks and air-conditioning ducts causes the disease. The bacteria is spread when a patient inhales spray from contaminated water, comes into contact with the bacteria from cooling mists, decorative water structures or fountains and industrial-type air-conditioning units.

Hopkins authorities have announced that the city’s water sources are safe. Legionnaire’s is not contagious and is not contracted by drinking water. Many people who come into contact with the bacteria don’t even develop the disease, but there are specific characteristics that make individuals susceptible to Legionnaire’s. These include smoking, weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease and age over 50.

Symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease are muscle aches, chills, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing and loss of appetite. More severe symptoms include pneumonia, abdominal pain, diarrhea and high fever.

The disease was named after the Pennsylvania American Legion convention that took place in Philadelphia in 1976.

Over 60 cases of Legionnaire’s have been reported in Minnesota this year.

In Washington, one of two patients diagnosed with the disease that was associated with cardiac units at the University of Washington Medical Center has died, according to health officials. While Legionnaire’s was not specified as the direct cause, it contributed largely to the patient’s death.

No source of these cases has been detected, and investigation of the UWMC’s heating, air-conditioning and ventilating systems is ongoing, according to the Seattle Times. In 2014, there were 63 reported cases of Legionnaire’s in Washington, which led to eight deaths.

Legionnaire’s affects around 5,000 people annually in the United States, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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