Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. The bacteria that reason Legionnaire’s disease have been found in water delivery systems and can live in the hot, moist, air conditioning systems of huge buildings, including hospitals. It generally affects middle-aged or elderly people and it more commonly and affects smokers or people with other chest problems. People who have weak immune systems from diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure are also more likely to get sick from Legionella bacteria.

People who take drugs to suppress (weaken) the immune system are also at higher risk. They are also commonly found in environmental sources they may also be found in purpose built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers and whirlpool spas. Legionellosis takes two distinct forms. Legionnaires’ disease is the more severe form of the infection and produces pneumonia. Pontiac fever is caused by the same bacterium, but produces a milder respiratory illness without pneumonia which resembles acute influenza. Legionnaires’ disease develops within 2 to 10 days after exposure to legionellae.

Initial symptoms may include loss of energy, headache, nausea, aching muscles, high fever, and chest pains. Later, many bodily systems as well as the mind may be affected. Occasionally, bloody sputum is produced. Lethargy and confusion can occur in progressive, serious cases. The disease eventually will cause death if the body’s high fever and antibodies cannot defeat it. Victims who survive may suffer permanent physical or mental impairment. Legionnaires’ disease can be very serious and can cause death in up to 5% to 30% of cases. Antibiotics are used to fight Legionnaire’s disease.

Macrolides are used in all age groups while tetracyclines are prescribed. Rifampicin can be used in mishmash with a quinolone or macrolide. Erythromycin and Azithromycin, antibiotics, have been useful, especially when cases are detected early. Tetracycline’s and erythromycin led to improved outcome compared to other antibiotics. These antibiotics are effective because they have excellent intracellular penetration and Legionella infects cells. Intravenous (IV) access and fluid therapy may be indicated for dehydration. Prevention is also better then cures. Treating contaminated water delivery systems can prevent the spread of disease.


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