Skip to main content

Key Information About Legionnaires' Disease

Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of bacterial pneumonia. According to CDC, 1 out of every 10 individuals who get infected by this disease die because of complications.

Causes

Legionnaires' disease is caused by Legionella pneumophila, an aerobic bacterium of the genus Legionella.

These bacteria thrive in warm water. They often spread through a building’s contaminated water system.

They grow in air conditioning systems that are not properly maintained, since they have the ideal temperature and moisture.

Showerheads, sink faucets, hot tubs and decorative fountains can be a source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

In May 2022, five people fell ill with Legionnaires’ disease after staying at The Grand Islander Waikiki Honolulu, a resort that is part of the Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare network in Hawaii.

Legionella pneumophila

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Symptoms

Legionnaires' disease usually develops 2 to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, muscle pain, shortness of breath and headache.

Most healthy people exposed to Legionella bacteria do not develop Legionnaires’ disease.

Fever Is a Symptom of Legionnaires' disease

key-information-about-legionnaires-disease

Diagnosis

Tests to diagnose this disease include culture on specialized Legionella media. Culture media provide nutrients to the bacteria.

When phlegm of the infected person is placed onto the culture media, the bacteria grows on the medium, making their identification possible.

Scroll to Continue

Treatment

Legionnaires' disease can be cured. It is always treated with antibiotics. Treatment is usually started as soon as the disease is suspected.

Antibiotics are given by mouth or intravenously for between 10 and 14 days.

For Legionnaires disease (LD), a high level of suspicion and prompt initiation of adequate antimicrobial therapy are critical to improve clinical outcomes.

— Mobeen H Rathore, MD, CPE, FAAP, FIDSA

Legionnaires' Disease Is Treated With Antibiotics

key-information-about-legionnaires-disease

Prevention

There are no vaccines for this disease. Prevent water stagnation. Flush out infrequently used taps and showerheads weekly.

Clean and de-scale hoses and shower heads quarterly. Keep cold-water storage tanks clean.

Practice yoga daily. It boosts your immune system.

In June 2022, ASTM International’s water committee (D19) approved a new standard that provides an easy and accurate culture method for detecting Legionella pneumophila.

“Laboratories, building owners, and water treaters can use the new standard to perform routine monitoring of L. pneumophila to evaluate whether water management plans are effective in removing the pathogenic bacteria and adequately reducing risk,” said ASTM International member Jody Frymire.

Chest X-ray of a Severe Case of Legionnaires Disease

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

Related Articles