Alert: Legionnaires’ disease outbreak linked to Grand Rapids Water! 

Legionnaires' source of the outbreak is linked to grand rapids in Minnesota, as since April 2023, 14 cases have been reported of the dangerous disease.
Legionnaires' source of the outbreak is linked to grand rapids in Minnesota, as since April 2023, 14 cases have been reported of the dangerous disease. Credit | Getty images

United States: According to the health authorities in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the city’s water supply was probably the source of the Legionnaires’ outbreak. 

The disease has been reported since April 2023 by the state health department, and 14 cases were confirmed. The disease is caused by an inhalation of Legionella bacteria, which are present in water, the release stated. 

Jessica Hancock-Allen, director of the Minnesota Department of Health, MDH, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division, said, “We are taking this situation very seriously,” and, “While most people exposed to Legionella bacteria do not develop Legionnaires’ disease, the best thing to do if you experience symptoms of pneumonia – such as cough, shortness of breath, fever and headache – is contact your health care provider right away,” reported USA Today News. 

Health authorities conducted tests on water samples 

Visual Representation – Water Quality Test Credit | Getty images

As per the release, a common factor in all cases was the contamination of the municipal water supply. The authorities carried out tests on the water in two community buildings. First, both samples had the bacteria present. 

While doing the analysis, officials revealed that the bacteria in the building had the same genomic origins as those that were infected by the community members, while they were also related to the bacteria found in the patient’s respiratory samples. 

Tom Hogan, director of MDH’s Environmental Health Division, stated, “We are working in partnership with the local water utility to determine the best way to address the situation,” and “Additional water sampling is planned, and the results will be analyzed and used to inform additional actions and communication,” reported USA Today News. 

Steps to be taken by the officials to control the disease 

According to Julie Kennedy, the general manager of public utilities in the city, an outline of a plan to identify the areas of the water system will be made, which would involve the flushing out and the disinfecting of the part of the water system to reduce the risk of Legionella

Moreover, Kennedy said the district is considering getting a chlorination system, but the installation could create lots of difficulty. 

Kennedy said in a statement, “Introducing chlorination to a previously unchlorinated system is a complex process, so our approach needs to be methodical to ensure we avoid any additional health, safety or distribution system complications,” reported by USA Today News. 

During the preparation process, Kennedy informed the public that they would send local updates and customer notices, and along with the MDH and other experts, they would further assess the water distribution system “to determine the best long-term solution.” 

Know about Legionnaire’s disease 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Legionnaires’ disease is one of the most dangerous kinds of pneumonia. The illness is acute respiratory tract infection, also called Pontiac fever, caused by Legionella bacteria that inhabit freshwater environments like lakes and streams. 

As stated on the CDC’s website, “People can get sick when they breathe in small droplets of water or accidentally swallow water containing Legionella into the lungs.” 

As reported by USA Today News, the disease comes with a fatality rate of about 10 percent, and while it is not contagious, its spreading from one human to another is only possible in rare circumstances. 

Methods to control its spread – CDC 

The CDC stated various ways in which the spread of bacteria can be controlled by water management programs and stated the following measures that people could implement- 

· Maintain water temperatures outside the Legionella range for levels of growth, which is 77–113 degrees Fahrenheit. However, remember that the bacteria can thrive in temperatures below 68 degrees. 

· Prevention of water stagnation 

· Use devices to prevent deposit, scale, corrosion, and biofilm because they provide habitat and nutrients for Legionella. 

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease 

The infection has a similar character to the other types of pneumonia. The CDC stated patients exposed to the bacteria may experience the following- Cough, Shortness of breath, Fever, Muscle aches, and Headaches. 

How common is the Legionnaies’ disease? 

Even though there are few such cases reported each year, the CDC stressed that the number is growing. Additionally, it also admitted that it is possible that nearly twice or thrice as many cases are there as the ones reported. 

CDC stated, “Health departments reported nearly 10,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States in 2018,” and, “However, because Legionnaires’ disease is likely underdiagnosed, this number may underestimate the true incidence.”