Legionnaires' disease is a type of
pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is caused by
bacteria called Legionella pneumophila. The bacteria can
also cause a less severe, more flu-like condition known as Pontiac fever. The
diseases caused by Legionella pneumophila are also
Legionnaires' disease generally affects
people older than 50, especially if they smoke or have a long-term lung
disease, such as
asthma. People with a weak
immune system are more likely to get the condition
than others are. Legionnaires' disease usually occurs in single cases, not in
large groups of people at one time (an outbreak). When outbreaks do occur, it
is usually in the summer or early fall. Single cases can occur
Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems
Coughing up blood (hemoptysis) can be a sign of a serious medical condition. Infections, cancer, and problems in blood vessels or in the lungs themselves can be responsible. Coughing up blood generally requires medical evaluation unless the hemoptysis is due to bronchitis.
Pontiac fever usually occurs in otherwise healthy
How do you get the conditions?
You develop either
condition from breathing in the bacteria from contaminated water sources, such
as air-conditioning cooling towers, plumbing systems, hot-water tanks, and
spas. These sources often have warm, stagnant water that allows bacteria to
grow and increases your risk of getting either condition. People who work near
natural bodies of water do not appear to be at increased risk for either
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Legionnaires'
disease include fever, chills, and a cough, which may produce
mucus. You may also experience muscle aches, headache,
tiredness, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Not everyone has the same symptoms,
which range from mild to severe.
The symptoms of Pontiac fever
are fever and muscle aches. The symptoms generally go away in 2 to 5 days
How are the conditions diagnosed?
Your doctor can
diagnose both Legionnaires' disease and Pontiac fever by asking about your
medical history and doing a physical exam. If your doctor thinks you have
Legionnaires' disease, he or she will ask about your working conditions and do
tests. Testing may include a urine test or looking at
mucus from your lungs.
How are they treated?
Doctors treat Legionnaires'
disease with antibiotics.