Legionnaires outbreak was caused by a cooling tower at a juice company

Lab testing confirmed the cause of the outbreak that sickened 23 people and killed one.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The cause of the deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Hopkins last month was a cooling tower at a local juice company.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday test results confirmed a strain of Legionella bacteria (which causes Legionnaires' disease, a lung infection) was found in one of the cooling towers at Citrus Systems, Inc., located at 415 11th Ave. S. in Hopkins.

"The lab testing is highly specific and provides us with great confidence that this tower is the source of infection," MDH deputy state epidemiologist Richard Danila said in a statement.

Officials stressed that although the bacteria was discovered in the cooling towers, products made and packaged at Citrus Systems are not affected or involved in the outbreak.

No new cases reported

The outbreak made 23 people sick – 17 of them were hospitalized, and one person died.

There haven't been any new cases of Legionnaires' disease reported since Sept. 22, and health officials are pretty confident no new cases will be reported.

"Although it’s been more than 14 days since the tower was sanitized and since our last case, which is beyond the typical 10-day incubation period for Legionella, it’s still possible we could see an additional case if someone were exposed on Sept. 27," Danila said. "It often takes time for cases to present for care and be tested. However, we believe the source has been identified and remediation has occurred."

How did the outbreak happen?

Cooling towers (air conditioning units for larger buildings) are a common source for Legionnaires' disease. The bacteria can grow in the water system, and when the contaminated water is turned into mist by the cooling system and released into the air, it can make whoever breathes it in sick.

"We don’t know in this case exactly what went wrong to cause the build-up of Legionella," Danila said. "This situation clearly demonstrates how difficult it can be to keep systems free of Legionella, even when they are well-maintained."

The Minnesota Department of Health says Citrus Systems has cooperated with their investigation, and has cleaned and disinfected its towers. It is also working with the health department to make sure their cooling system is working correctly.

Next Up

Minneapolis police

Vehicle runs over 2 people in downtown Minneapolis brawl

Two suspects have reportedly been identified.

Jorge Alcala

Rare night for Twins' bullpen fuels victory over Cardinals

The Twins scored five runs in the third inning in an 8-1 victory.

Bisi Johnson

Report: Bisi Johnson tears ACL, will miss 2021 season

Johnson suffered the injury during Friday's practice.

Mike Zimmer

Frustrated Zimmer sounds off after Vikings' positive COVID test

"I’m frustrated, not just with my football players who didn’t get vaccinated, but I’m frustrated with everybody [who didn't]."

Kirk Cousins

Report: Kellen Mond has COVID, Cousins among players out of practice

The team is scheduled to practice on Saturday night.

USPS packages

Two Ramsey County men sentenced in mail theft scheme

Sonny Vang Xiong was sentenced to three years in prison, while Davis Her was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

Jeff Gladney

Jeff Gladney's ex-girlfriend files $1 million civil lawsuit

The civil lawsuit accuses Gladney of assaulting the woman for over two hours.

vaccine, covid

St. Paul care home group will mandate COVID vaccines for staff

It comes amid reports of COVID outbreaks at homes where residents are all vaccinated, but staff are not.

Jail handcuffs arrest

Starbuck man charged with uploading, sharing child pornography

The 47-year-old was arrested after a tip from the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.

ambulance

Boy, 11, seriously injured after 'fall' that police now suspect was abuse

It was initially reported that the boy slipped and fell.

Related

The cause of the Legionnaires' outbreak is probably a cooling tower

We know a little bit more about the possible source of the recent Legionnaires' disease outbreak.

Legionnaires' disease puts 2 in the hospital

The state's investigating the outbreak in Maple Grove.

1 person with Legionnaires has died, more cases confirmed

Last week, there were nine confirmed cases in Hopkins.

Screen Shot 2019-02-17 at 2.34.12 PM

MN hotel partly closed down after Legionnaires' outbreak

The spa and pool at the Crookston Inn and Convention Center has been closed.

Screen Shot 2020-08-19 at 8.16.50 PM

Salmonella outbreak in Minnesota linked to fresh peaches

Twenty-three people have been sickened in the outbreak.