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Legionnaires’ Disease Bacteria Found In Minneapolis Hospital Water Samples

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Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaire's disease, was found in the water supply of a Minneapolis Hospital, health officials announced. Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center officials say the disease-causing pathogen was found in five of 40 water samples.

Though there are no reported cases of the disease linked to the contaminated water in VA Medical Center, the officials implemented actions to eliminate the bacteria such as installing filters on faucets and shower heads. They also flushed the water system to remove the bacteria in the hospital's water supply.

The hospital's officials discovered the contaminated water after routine water testing was performed on Nov. 19.

Legionnaire's disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella. Mostly caused by contaminated water, it can cause serious respiratory disease characterized by lung infection and eventually, pneumonia.

The bacteria thrive in warm water like those found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems and decorative fountains. It cannot be passed from one person to another, instead, it can be transmitted when people breathe in vapor or mist from water that is contaminated with the pathogen.

Around 8,000 to 18,000 people in the United States get infected with Legionnaire's disease each year. In August, a Legionnaire's disease outbreak took 12 lives in New York City and sickened more than 120 people. At the same month, another outbreak in a veterans' nursing home in Quincy, Illinois occurred killing 12 people and infecting a total of 54 people.

Legionnaire's disease can be hard to diagnose because it has similar signs and symptoms to other types of respiratory disease like pneumonia. People who got infected usually develop cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pain and headache.

The symptoms usually begin two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria. However, some people develop symptoms within two weeks after exposure. Treatment options include intake of antibiotics to kill the bacteria.

This infection was discovered in 1976 when a lot of people who went to an American Legion convention in Philadelphia were sickened with pneumonia.

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