February 1, 2019
MDH and Alomere Health investigating Legionnaires’ cases associated with Alexandria hospital
Hospital implementing protective measures
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is working with Alomere Health of Alexandria to investigate two recent cases of Legionnaires’ disease associated with the hospital.
The first person became ill with the bacterial infection in late November and subsequently recovered. The second case developed symptoms in late January and remains hospitalized.
MDH and Alomere are working together to identify possible sources for the Legionella bacteria and to reduce the risk of further cases from occurring. Alomere has retained an expert consultant to conduct a complete assessment and testing of the facility’s water system and address potential sources for the bacteria. In addition, Alomere has implemented MDH recommendations to reduce the risk of exposure to patients and employees. These preventive measures include the following guidance for patients and employees:
- Do not use the shower. Patients can take baths without jets.
- Do not use hand sprayers.
- Patients on medical/surgical and ICU units should use bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth, and other oral care.
These recommendations only apply to patients and employees at Alomere Health. Alexandria’s municipal water supply meets water quality standards.
MDH has asked health care providers in the Alexandria area to watch for any additional patients with symptoms that may indicate Legionnaires’ disease. Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial pneumonia that can be severe, so prompt diagnosis and antibiotic treatment is important. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and coughing. The disease is spread by inhaling the fine spray from water sources containing Legionella bacteria. It is not spread from person to person. In 2018, Minnesota had more than 150 cases reported around the state.
Most people exposed to Legionella bacteria do not develop Legionnaires’ disease. People over the age of 50, smokers or those with certain medical conditions including weakened immune systems, diabetes, chronic lung disease or other chronic health conditions are at increased risk. If you have concerns about possible exposure, please contact your health care provider.