Updated November 11, 2021 A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Ramada by Wyndham in Albert Lea, MN has sickened at least two people, possibly many more. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says early evidence shows the Legionella infections were likely caused by the hotel’s hot tub.

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Investigators identified two confirmed Legionnaires’ cases among unrelated people who spent time at the hotel’s pool/hot tub area during the last weekend of June. Both started experiencing symptoms between late June and early July. One person remains hospitalized.

Lori Haler and her boyfriend James Muller stayed at the hotel on June 27-29 and used the hot tub. After their stay, Lori became very ill. Her daughter told KTTC that Lori couldn’t get out of bed without help and was having difficulty breathing. She was hospitalized and is now on a ventilator. Muller, who also experienced symptoms, died last week. The family is awaiting autopsy results to learn the cause of his death.

MDH is investigating other reports of illnesses that may be linked to this outbreak.

After the illnesses were reported, the Ramada by Wyndham Albert Lea shut down the hotel’s spa/hot tub for maintenance on June 29, 2021. The hotel’s pool has also been closed to guests. And MDH recommended that people who got sick after visiting the hotel between June 22 and June 29 see a healthcare provider to get evaluated for Legionnaires’ disease.

Richard Danila, of the MDH, told KTTC that prior to this outbreak, at least four other cases of Legionnaires’ disease were associated with stays at the hotel. Inspectors have recommended that the hot tub be removed because it is an older model that likely cannot be made safe again, he told the station.

Hot Tubs Are a Common Source of Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreaks

Hot tubs are a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria, which grow best in warm water. Because of their temperature, which ranges from 96˚F – 104˚F, hot tubs are a common cause of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. People can get sick by inhaling contaminated mist surrounding a hot tub/spa area. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle ache, chills, shortness of breath, coughing, and loss of appetite. High-risk groups include people over age 50 and those with weakened immune systems.

Legionella Bacteria CDC
Legionella bacteria

About our Legionnaires’ Disease Legal Team

Our Legionnaires’ lawyers represent Legionella outbreak victims and their families. For the past 40 years, we have been representing people who developed serious illnesses because corporate wrongdoers failed to put water safety plans in place. Our lawyers recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man who developed Legionnaires’ disease after a senior living facility in Illinois failed to properly maintain and clean its water system.

One of the first steps you should take after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease is to consult with an experienced lawyer. For a free consultation with one of our lawyers, please call 612-338-0202, text 612-261-0856, or fill out the form below.

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Update: This post was originally published July 12, 2021, and updated November 11, 2021, to include new information about the hospitalized patient.