The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is working with Freeborn County Public Health, the City of Albert Lea and other partners to investigate two cases of Legionnaires’ disease in residents at the St. John’s Fountain Lake facility in Albert Lea. The facility provides assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care and independent living services.
The first resident’s symptoms began in early June, and the second resident’s symptoms were reported to MDH on Thursday. Both residents were hospitalized.
MDH is working with St. John’s Fountain Lake to identify possible sources of Legionella and has recommended that facility management work with a consultant to test and remediate those sources as needed. In the meantime, MDH is recommending a number of protective measures to minimize the chance for residents to be exposed to any Legionella bacteria. These recommendations are based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. They are only for residents, people visiting and workers at St. John’s Fountain Lake. Albert Lea’s municipal water supply meets water quality standards.
The facility provided notices to its residents about these recommendations and has started implementing them.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of 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. Legionnaires’ disease is spread by inhaling the fine spray (aerosols) from water sources containing Legionella bacteria. It is not spread from person to person.
In recent years, cases of Legionnaires’ disease have increased in Minnesota and nationally. Most cases are diagnosed in summer and early fall and are not linked to a specific outbreak.
Most people exposed to Legionella 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 an increased risk for Legionnaires’ disease. If you have concerns, please seek medical attention and inform your health care provider.-MDH-