With the latest reports from the City of Hopkins putting the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at 20, including one death, and an overall increase in cases in the state of Minnesota as a whole, Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to take additional steps to respond to outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in Minnesota and nationwide. More than 60 people in Minnesota have been sickened this year. In the United States, approximately 5,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported annually. In a letter to Director Frieden today, Klobuchar called on the CDC to assist in defining a clear path forward to combating outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease to ensure the safety of Minnesotans and families nationwide.
The full text of Klobuchar’s letter is below:
Dear Dr. Frieden:
I write to you with concern about ongoing outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, which have sickened more than 60 people in Minnesota this year. The recent outbreak in Hopkins, Minnesota has affected 20 people, leading to 16 hospitalizations and one death. State and local health officials are still working to identify the source or sources of the outbreak as cases continue to be reported, including three new cases just this week. I urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to take additional steps to respond to outbreaks of legionellosis.
As you know, an increasing number of people across the country are contracting legionellosis, Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever, which is caused by the inhalation of small water droplets contaminated with Legionella. In the United States, approximately 5,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported annually. CDC has stated that between 2000 and 2014, there was a 286 percent increase in the number of reported cases, based on passive surveillance for legionellosis.
I am glad the CDC has recently increased funding for all states through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement. This funding will help strengthen state and local health departments’ public health workforce, surveillance systems, laboratory facilities, and information networks. Additionally, the CDC is equipped with expertise and resources to assist state and local public health officials when an infectious disease outbreak occurs. In order to define a clear path forward to combating outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, I request a response to the following questions:
- What protocol is taken by the CDC to assist state, local and tribal public health officials once an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease is identified?
- What additional funding mechanisms are available to state, local and tribal governments for preventive measures?
- What steps are being taken by the CDC, both alone and in coordination with other agencies, to both understand the increasing number of cases and prevent Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks across the United States?
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I appreciate the initial steps taken by the CDC to assist Minnesota during this outbreak and I look forward to working with the agency to ensure the safety of Minnesotans and families nationwide.