Chris Hawkey, a popular Twin Cities radio host and country singer, confirmed Thursday that he was one of 20 people to catch Legionnaires’ disease in the recent outbreak centered on Hopkins.
Hawkey, a co-host on the morning drive show on KFAN Radio, said he received his diagnosis on Sept. 15 and that he has been in touch with state public health officials.
The 45-year-old Hawkey, who also stays busy as a country music performer around the region, said the illness felled him for nearly a week but that he has recovered and returned to his spot behind the microphone. One of the 20 stricken has died.
Hawkey said he started feeling unusually fatigued, then soon experienced aching joints and a fever that peaked at 103 degrees.
State health officials believe that all 20 patients reported so far were exposed to the bacteria in the Hopkins area before Sept. 9. Working with local leaders, they have sanitized water-cooling equipment at several sites and shut down a Hopkins civic fountain, but have not to date pinpointed the exact source of the bacteria.
Hawkey lives in the northwestern suburbs and works at the KFAN studios in St. Louis Park, a commute that requires him to skirt the Hopkins border every day.
Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by inhaling mist or aerosolized water droplets that contain the Legionella bacteria. Symptoms include cough, fever and difficulty breathing. In its most severe form, the disease results in a pneumonia that can be fatal to those with compromised immune systems or chronic diseases.
Hawkey said his diagnosis found that he had Legionella pneumonia.
Health Department investigators are still trying to identify how the outbreak started, agency spokesman Doug Schultz said.