Legionnaires' disease is a type of
pneumonia. It is caused by
bacteria called Legionella pneumophila. The bacteria got its name in 1976, when a group of people attending an American Legion convention became infected. Although it was present before 1976, Legionnaires' disease is being diagnosed more often now as doctors look for Legionella bacteria in people who have pneumonia. You can get Legionnaire's disease at any time of the year, but more cases are usually found in the summer and early fall. While Legionnaires' disease can be very serious, most cases can be treated successfully.
The Legionella pneumophila bacteria can
also cause a less severe, flu-like condition known as Pontiac fever.
Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems
Lung diseases are some of the most common medical conditions in the world. Tens of millions of people suffer from lung disease in the U.S. Smoking, infections, and genetics are responsible for most lung diseases.
The lungs are part of a complex apparatus, expanding and relaxing thousands of times each day to bring in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung disease can result from problems in any part of this system.
People usually get Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) that contains the bacteria. One example might be from breathing in the steam from a whirlpool spa that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected. Other sources include fountains and water sources in hotels, cruise ships, nursing homes, and hospitals.
These diseases aren't contagious. The bacteria are not spread from one person to another person. You can get the diseases again if you are exposed to the bacteria again.
Legionnaires' disease typically affects
people older than 45, especially if they smoke or have a long-term lung
disease such as
asthma.1 People with a weak
immune system are also more likely to get the condition. Despite its being named after infecting a large group of people, Legionnaires' disease usually occurs in single cases, not in
large groups at one time (an outbreak).
Pontiac fever usually occurs in otherwise healthy people.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of Legionnaires'
Less common symptoms range from muscle aches and headaches to abdominal (belly) pain, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Legionnaire's disease symptoms usually appear 2 days to 2 weeks after a person is exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
symptoms include fever and muscle aches. Symptoms usually appear 1 to 2 days after a person is exposed to the bacteria. They usually go away without treatment in a few days.