Two people have been infected with Legionnaires’ disease and others are showing symptoms after staying at an Albert Lea hotel.
The Minnesota Department of Health is warning people who were at the Ramada by Wyndham Albert Lea hotel in late June to seek medical care if they are feeling sick.
The bacteria that causes the disease most likely was spread by the hotel’s hot tub, according to an MDH statement released Friday. Infections are caused when someone inhales fine spray from water sources that contain the Legionella bacteria, leading to a form of pneumonia.
The disease is not passed from person to person. Those older than 50, current or former smokers and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk.
The two people who became infected with Legionnaires’ spent time in the hotel’s pool and hot tub area. Both were hospitalized and one has been discharged.
“There are reports of additional people with this exposure who are experiencing illnesses that might be Legionnaires’ disease,” MDH said in a statement.
“If you spent time at the hotel between June 22 and June 29 and are ill now, or if you develop illness in the two weeks following your visit, please see a health care provider to be evaluated for possible Legionnaires’ disease,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the infectious disease division at MDH.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and coughing.
Minnesota saw its highest number of Legionnaires’ infections in 2018, when 152 cases were confirmed. Before 2016, there were never more than 60 cases per year.
While disease investigators were unable to trace the source of most of the 2018 cases, five were linked to an outbreak at a senior living community, one case was associated with an outbreak linked to a hospital and six cases stemmed from outbreaks in other states.
Minnesota had 94 cases in 2020 and 118 in 2019, according to preliminary data compiled by MDH. Some of its work has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
MDH said it is working with the hotel as part of its investigation. The hot tub was shut down for maintenance on June 29 and the pool area is closed.
A 2016 outbreak that sickened 23 people and contributed to one death was linked to a cooling tower at a Hopkins juice manufacturing plant.
Legionnaires’ was first detected in 1976 after many people became sick after attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Eventually more than 180 cases developed and 29 people died.
Glenn Howatt • 612-673-7192