October 12, 2016, Update: The source of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak is a cooling tower on the Citrus Systems, Inc. facility in Hopkins, according to MDH. Contact our law firm about a lawsuit.

Our law firm has filed a lawsuit and is representing 12 people sickened in the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Hopkins, Minnesota. We are also representing the family of the person who died.

Fred Pritzker Law Firm
Attorney Fred Pritzker can be contacted for a free consultation regarding a lawsuit.

To date, 23 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been confirmed in people who live, work or spent time in Hopkins. The most recent illness onset date for known cases is Sept. 22.

“The pattern of where cases were likely exposed is consistent with a community-wide exposure to contaminated water that became aerosolized, most likely from a cooling tower,” said the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). This means water mist containing Legionella (the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease) emanated from a cooling tower on a building and possibly covered an area about 2 miles in diameter. A person only needs to breathe in a little contaminated water mist for enough Legionella to get into the lungs and cause pneumonia, so someone a mile from the building with the contaminated cooling tower could get Legionnaires’ disease.

It is possible more than one building is involved in the outbreak.

MDH has collected environmental samples for testing from 7 buildings with cooling towers in the area of concern in Hopkins. We are awaiting the results of these tests, which can take weeks because Legionella is a slow-growing bacteria.

As of Sept. 29, all 7 of the identified cooling towers have been or are being remediated by their owners, but there may be other cooling towers in the area of concern that have not been identified. This outbreak investigation will not be complete until all nearby cooling towers that could be a source of the Hopkins illnesses are identified and remediated, and no additional cases are identified, according to MDH.

Legionella and Fatal Legionnaires Pneumonia
Fluorescent antibody (DFA)-stained photomicrograph of a right upper lobe lung autopsy specimen revealing the presence of HEBA strain, Gram-negative Legionella bacteria.

Finding all of the cooling towers in the area has been difficult because no state or local registry or master list of cooling towers exists.  Building owners are responsible for operating cooling towers consistent with industry standards, but cooling towers are not regulated by the state.

MDH recommends all building owners with cooling towers review guidelines from the CDC regarding implementation of a water management program to reduce Legionella growth. Apparently, a building owner in Hopkins did not do that. Our law firm is preparing to file a lawsuit against the building owner once test results provide the needed evidence.

This outbreak has grown quickly, and there may be others who contracted this severe form of pneumonia after being in Hopkins. Our Legionnaires’ disease lawyers are providing free consultations for people who know they are part of the outbreak, as well as people who suspect they are part of it.