23 sickened, cooling towers suspected source in Minnesota Legionnaires' outbreak

On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health increased the tally of Legionnaires' disease cases in an outbreak in the city of Hopkins to 23, up from 20 previously. Officials are still searching for the source of the outbreak, but they believe cooling towers could be the culprit.

One of the 23 infected individuals has died.

Health officials have identified seven locations with one or more cooling towers as potential sources of the outbreak. All of said cooling towers have been or will undergo remediation services, which assess for contamination and implement strategies to remove possible pollutants and bacteria. Samples from the cooling towers have been collected and are being tested for Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires' disease. The tests can take weeks, according to the MDH.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia. It is not spread by person-to-person contact or by drinking water, but can be contracted by inhaling mist from infected water sources such plumbing systems and cooling towers.

"While the remediation of known cooling towers is important in reducing any ongoing risk to people in the area, MDH will not consider the investigation complete until all nearby cooling towers that could be a source of the Hopkins illnesses are identified and remediated, and no additional cases are identified," said the department in a release.

More articles on infection control: 
Measles eradicated in the Americas 
Minn. Senator calls on CDC to take more action against recent Legionnaires' outbreaks 
10 most-read infection control stories in September

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