HOPKINS, Minn. (WCCO) — There are now 20 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in the Twin Cities, and everyone who has tested positive has lived, worked or visited the city of Hopkins.
Sixteen people have been hospitalized since the outbreak began, and one person has died. The disease is contracted by inhaling mist form water containing Legionella bacteria.
Near the Supervalu distribution center in Hopkins, Legionnares’ Disease has been the talk of the neighborhood.
“It is disconcerting, and they really aren’t saying much at all about it,” homeowner Jackie Lewis said.
Because the disease is contracted by inhaling water mist containing Legionnaires’ bacteria, state health investigators have looked at Hopkins businesses like Supervalu and Cargill. Large cooling units used for air-conditioning are the perfect home for Legionnaires’, but so far investigators have not been able to pinpoint the source of the outbreak.
Chris Hawkey of KFAN’s Power Trip morning show is among those infected.
“When it started turning toward pneumonia, I knew that was going on,” he said. “I just started feeling tired, feeling rundown — even more so than normal. Then my joints and stuff really started hurting. I just felt really beat up.”
Hawkey said his temperature soared to 103 degrees, and missed nearly a week of work. He said he initially started to feel sick a couple weeks ago as his band was driving back from playing in Nashville, Tennessee, but prior to that he had been through the Hopkins area.
“My biggest question is — I don’t know how I got it,” he said. “I drive [Highway] 169 every day, so I drive some of the areas where people think it might have happened on my ways from my radio station down to Winter Park. I can’t figure out how I came into contact with it. I’d love to know.”
Some of the businesses that have been looked at have taken measures to disinfect their facilities. The majority of cases involve men, and ages range from 29 to 97 years old.