Legionnaires’ disease is a serious and potentially fatal form of pneumonia. The name comes from an epidemic in 1976, when 34 American Legion members all mysteriously died after staying at the same hotel. You are more likely to become ill with Legionnaires if you are over 50, have a weakened immune system, drink or smoke heavily or if you suffer with kidney, lung or heart disease. Fortunately, Legionnaires is rare in the U.K.
What causes Legionnaires disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila, people become infected when they inhale the legionella bacteria from tiny droplets of contaminated water in the air or from drinking contaminated water. Legionella and can found in man-made water systems like air conditioning units, hot and cold-water systems, spa pools or hot tubs. Larger buildings like hotels or hospitals are more at risk as they have more complex water systems. The bacteria can survive and grow in warm, moist, conditions and if present can cause an outbreak of the disease. Legionella bacteria is also found in natural water like lakes and streams but usually in low numbers.
What are the Symptoms of Legionnaires disease?
The early symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are a flu like illness with fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches. You may also have diarrhoea and become confused and unable to think clearly. As the bacteria infects the lungs you might experience chest pains, persistent cough and a shortness of breath. Symptoms usually start about 6 days after exposure.
Is Legionnaires disease contagious?
No, you cannot catch Legionnaires’ from another person who has the infection.
How is Legionnaires disease diagnosed?
As the symptoms of Legionnaires resembles the flu it can make it difficult to diagnose. If your doctor suspects Legionnaires he might ask you about recent travel. If you suspect you might have Legionnaires you must tell your doctor about recent travel and any recent use of spas or hot tubs. Legionnaires’ is diagnosed with blood tests, phlegm tests and urine tests, your doctor might also send you for a chest x-ray. We sell a urine test on this website for diagnosing Legionnaires’s disease, please click here for more information or to buy.
How is Legionnaires disease treated?
Legionnaires disease is treated with a course of antibiotics. Elderly people or those with a weakened immune system are more likely to be admitted to hospital for treatment.
What is the long-term effect of Legionnaires disease?
Legionnaires can lead to life threatening conditions to develop so it is very important to treat it straight away. The infection can cause your lungs or kidneys to stop working. Another complication of Legionnaires’ is sepsis. Sepsis or blood poisoning is a potentially life-threatening condition, it occurs when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive and attacks its own organs and tissues.