The Causes & Symptoms of Legionnaires Disease

LegionnairesLegionnaires’ Disease is a form of pneumonia. The cause is the legionella pneumophila bacterium. People become infected with the bacterium when they inhale it after it’s been aerosolized. As with other types of pneumonia, the bacteria invade the lungs and begin to proliferate there. The disease tends to strike older people and men are more often affected than women. People are more at risk if they smoke or if their immune systems are weak.

The person first begins to experience symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease about a week after being exposed to it. Legionnaires’ disease presents with fatigue, headache, muscle ache, fever and chills and an unproductive cough. In severe cases, the patient suffers from diarrhoea and mental confusion. The mortality rate from Legionnaires’ Disease is between 10 and 15 percent though some researchers claim that the mortality rate is as high as 30 percent.

Legionnaires’ Disease is best treated with quinolones like levofloxacin or macrolides like clarithromycin. Tetracycline’s are also useful in treating the disease.

Woman in BathroomThe legionella bacterium is common and is found in water. It only becomes a problem when water systems aren’t well maintained and allow the bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels.

How Did Legionnaire’s Disease Come About?

Legionnaires disease came about during a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia during the summer of 1976. The bacterium was unknown before this time. The bacterium seems to have infected the legionnaires when they breathed it in through a faulty air conditioning system.

Why It’s Called Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ Disease was named after members of the American Legion who first came down with the disease in the summer of 1976. One hundred and thirty legionnaires came down with this form of pneumonia and 25 of them died.

Who Discovered Legionnaires Disease?

legionella pneumophila bacteriumThe legionella bacterium was first isolated in January, 1977. The person who discovered the bacteria was Dr. Joseph McDade.

Where Legionnaires’ Disease was First Found

Legionnaires’ disease was first discovered in Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel on 200 South Broad Street.

For more information, training and risk assesment please refer to these Legionella websites

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