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Legionnaires' Disease and Pontiac Fever - Topic Overview

How are the conditions diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose both Legionnaires' disease and Pontiac fever by asking about your past health and by doing a physical exam. If your doctor thinks you have Legionnaires' disease, he or she will ask about your working conditions, if you have been around any possible source like fountains or hot tubs, and if you have traveled within the past 2 weeks. The doctor will also do tests. The tests may include a urine test or looking at mucus from your lungs.

How are they treated?

Most cases of Legionnaires' disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics. Treatment usually lasts at least 5 days.

Fever tends to improve or go away within the first few days. A cough may take longer to disappear. But in general you should start to feel better within the first few days of treatment. Complete recovery can take from 2 to 4 months.

Pontiac fever will go away without treatment. To reduce fever and muscle aches, drink plenty of fluids and consider taking over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol, for example) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin), naproxen (such as Aleve), and aspirin. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

What should you do if you think you were exposed to the bacteria?

Most people who are exposed to the bacteria don't become ill. But if you believe you were exposed, talk to your doctor or local health department. Be sure to tell them where you think you were exposed and if you have traveled in the last 2 weeks. This information will help them correctly diagnose and treat the disease, locate the source of the bacteria, and prevent others from being exposed to it.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 06, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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