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Legionnaires: Causes, Symptoms, Transmission, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Dec 28, 2023

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Causes Of Legionnaires

Symptoms Of Legionnaires

Transmission Of Legionnaires

Risk Factors Of Legionnaires

Diagnosis Of Legionnaires

Treatment Of Legionnaires

Prevention Of Legionnaires

Complications Of Legionnaires

Legionnaires Causes, Symptoms, Transmission, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Legionnaires' disease is a severe example of pneumonia, which is an infection-related lung inflammation. The reason for this is the legionella bacteria.

The main way that one acquires legionnaires' disease is by breathing in bacteria that are present in water or soil. Legionnaires' disease is more common in older people, smokers, and those with weakened immune systems.

Furthermore, the legionella bacteria is the cause of Pontiac fever, a milder form of the flu. While most cases of Pontiac fever resolve on their own, untreated cases of legionnaires' disease can be fatal. Fast antibiotic therapy is typically effective in curing Legionnaires' disease; nevertheless, some people continue to have symptoms even after treatment.

Pontiac fever, a mild variant of legionnaires' disease, is characterized by fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. Pontiac fever symptoms often go away in two to five days and do not affect your lungs.


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Causes Of Legionnaires

The bacterium Legionella pneumophila is the primary cause of Legionnaires' disease in the majority of cases. Legionella bacteria can be found in outside soil and water, although they rarely cause sickness. Air conditioners and other man-made water systems, however, may host legionella bacteria.

Although household plumbing can expose one to legionnaires' disease, large buildings have seen the majority of outbreaks, probably due to complex systems that facilitate the bacteria's growth and dissemination. Moreover, water is not required for residential or automotive air conditioners to cool.

Symptoms Of Legionnaires

Legionnaires' disease usually develops two to ten days after exposure to the legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Fever can get as high as 40 C, or 104 F.
  • Muscle ache

By the second or third day, you will begin to notice more symptoms, which could include:

  • Cough, which might occasionally discharge mucus and blood
  • Breathing problems
  • Signs of chest discomfort associated with the digestive tract, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea
  • Confusing feelings or other mental changes

The majority of cases of legionnaires' disease are lung-related, yet they can sometimes sporadically result in sores and infections in other parts of the body like the heart.

Also Read: Staphylococcus Aureus: Transmission, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

Transmission Of Legionnaires

Most illnesses are caused by breathing in minute water droplets tainted with legionella bacteria. This could be mist from a shower, faucet, or whirlpool, or it could be water from a massive building's ventilation system. Epidemics have been linked to:

  • Hot springs and Whirlpools
  • Cooling towers in air conditioners
  • Water heaters and tanks for hot water
  • Water features such as decorative fountains, birthing pools, and water consumption pools

There are other ways the virus might spread than breathing water droplets, like:

  • Aspiration: This occurs when liquids accidentally enter your lungs; this usually happens when you cough or choke after drinking. If you aspirate water tainted with legionella bacteria, you could get Legionnaires' disease.
  • Soil: A small number of people have developed Legionnaires' disease following work in a garden or using contaminated potting soil.

Also Read: Giardiasis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Risk Factors Of Legionnaires

Not everyone exposed to legionella bacteria becomes ill. Your chance of getting the infection is increased by the following:

  • Smoking: Because smoking damages the lungs, it makes you more susceptible to lung infections in general.
  • Have a weakened immune system: This could be brought on by some drugs, including corticosteroids and those used to prevent organ rejection after transplantation, or it could be caused by HIV or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
  • Possess a serious sickness, such as a chronic lung condition. Examples of these include cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and emphysema.
  • Are fifty years of age or older.

Legionnaires' disease can be a problem in healthcare facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes, where illnesses can spread quickly and patients are more vulnerable to infection.

Also Read: Group A Streptococcal Infections : Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Diagnosis Of Legionnaires

Legionnaires' illness is akin to other types of pneumonia. To help identify the presence of legionella bacteria as soon as possible, your doctor may take a test on your urine to look for legionella antigens, which are foreign substances that trigger the immune system. Additional testing can include:

  • Testing urine and blood
  • An X-ray of the chest can show the extent of lung infection, but it cannot identify Legionnaires' disease.
  • Tests utilizing a sample of your sputum or lung tissue

Treatment Of Legionnaires

The sickness caused by legionnaires is treated with antibiotics. The earlier therapy is started, the less likely major issues are to occur. Therapy frequently requires hospitalization. Pontiac fever has no long-term complications and goes away on its own without medical assistance.

Prevention Of Legionnaires

It is possible to prevent outbreaks of the disease caused by legionnaires' disease, but doing so requires water management systems in buildings that ensure regular water cleaning and monitoring. Give up smoking to lower your own risk.

Also Read: Listeriosis : Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Complications Of Legionnaires

The following are a few legionnaires' disease side effects that could be fatal:

  • Respiratory problem: This occurs when the body cannot get enough oxygen or carbon dioxide out of the blood through the lungs.
  • Septic shock: This occurs when blood pressure drops suddenly and sharply, which reduces blood flow to vital organs, including the kidneys and brain. Although the heart tries harder to compensate by pumping more blood, the extra strain eventually weakens the heart and reduces blood flow even further.
  • Sudden renal failure: This is the sudden inability of your kidneys to filter waste out of your blood. When your kidneys fail, your body stores dangerous levels of waste and fluid. As it happens that treatment is delayed, legionnaires' disease can be fatal.

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