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What a Legionnaires Outbreak Can Teach Us about Occupational Diseases

A recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Hopkins has led to 23 reported cases of the disease, including one fatality. The cause has not been linked to a specific location or employer.

While this example isn’t a specific workplace outbreak, the story offers a window into potential occupational disease risks.

Legionnaires’ disease causes symptoms similar to pneumonia: cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headaches and fever. It is spread by inhaling Legionella bacteria, which is aerosolized in contaminated water.

As the Pioneer Press reports, officials are looking at seven locations in Hopkins that could be the cause of the outbreak, each having one or more cooling towers.

While the Hopkins outbreak has been broad and affected people living and working throughout Hopkins, these situations are often more focused. Exposure to contaminated water could be a serious issue for employees working in the contaminated area on a day-to-day basis.

Another recent outbreak of Legionnaires in a Memphis hotel shows a situation where the disease is traced back to a single location. It puts both workers and patrons at risk.

Legionnaires’ disease is just one example of potential occupational diseases. There are much more severe health issues, such as cancer, that could be the result of workplace exposure.

It’s important for workers to be aware of the potential risks in their workplace. Your employer should have safety measures in place to protect you, however, if you do contract a disease as a result of your work environment, you have every right to be compensated.

While this example in Hopkins has not been directly linked to a specific location, it does show what can happen when you are exposed to contaminants. That’s something every worker should be aware of.

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