Legionnaires’ disease, also known as “Legionellosis,” is a type of pneumonia that is caused by bacteria, “Legionella.”Legionella bacteria subsist in soil and water and can multiply in water systems such as air-conditioning units in large buildings, offices, hotels. Normally, one gets this disease by simply breathing in a mist that contains the bacteria(Legionella). Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person.
Every year around 10,000 to 18,000 people in the United States are infected with legionella bacteria. Not all people become sick when exposed to bacteria. The chances of getting affected by this disease increases if you:
- have a frail or weak immune system
- have a chronic lung disease
- are over the age of 50.
Legionellosis is a very severe problem and can be life-threatening too. However, most people can regain their health with antibiotic treatment. Although legionnaires’ disease principally targets the lungs, it can also affect other parts of the body, including the heart. About 1 out of every ten people die due to this fatal disease-“Legionnaires.”
The infection can be spread due to the inhalation of microscopic water droplets containing legionella bacteria. This might be from the spray of a ventilation system, showers, swimming pools, decorative fountains.
The incubation period of Legionnaires’ disease is two to ten days, and by the second or third day, an individual starts developing symptoms that include:
- High fever
- Chest pain
- Gastrointestinal problems like constipation and perianal infections
- Loss of appetite
- Neurological symptoms, including confusion.
Anyone who has seen the above-mentioned symptoms in themselves should consult a doctor immediately. A chest x-ray diagnoses pneumonia and lab test can detect the specific bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease.
As the risk of Legionnaires’ disease being spread by large-scale water systems cannot be eliminated easily, the prevention steps should be taken that can deplete the bacteria, and those Preventions are:
- Proper management os systems.
- Replace the construction material that encourages bacterial development.
- Remove the section or network of pipes that have dead ends.
- Periodically disinfect the water system by heat or use chlorination whenever possible.
- Prevent stagnation as much as possible.
- Keep the temperature range in which the Legionella bacterium thrives and, i.e., 20-50°C.