All you need to know about Legionnaires disease

Legionnaire’s diseases is a grave form of pneumonia which is contracted by breathing in water droplets containing a bacterium named Legionella. The bacteria survives in warm and stagnant water sources like hot tubs and pools.

This bacteria was discovered after an outbreak at a Philadelphia convention in 1976. An approximate of 8000 people in USA are diagnosed with this disease. Some even goes unreported due to mild symptoms. The individuals never seek treatment.

Legionnaire’s disease can be life threatening as well which makes it highly recommendable for the victims to seek medical assistance with immediate effect.


After exposure to the bacterium, the disease will start causing symptoms between 2 and 14 days. This is called the incubation period. The symptoms are pretty similar to other forms of pneumonia. The most common symptoms include high fever, chills and severe coughs. Nevertheless, here are other symptoms that may occur depending on the severity of the case:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea


As mentioned above, the clearest reason behind occurrence of this disease is Legionella bacteria. The bacteria conquers the lungs and cause severe pneumonia. The bacteria lives in warm stagnant water. The common locations where it can be found includes:

  • Swimming pools
  • Hot tubs
  • Public showers
  • Fountains
  • Natural water resources like lakes and rivers
  • Cooling systems like air-conditioning units

The bacteria can also survive outdoor however they would multiply in indoor water systems at a rapid pace. People get infected by inhaling these water droplets that is contaminated with bacteria. The disease is not contagious though, which means it doesn’t spread from person to person.

Who is at risk?

Not everyone inhaling this contaminated water is at risk. There is a specific class of people who are at higher risk of developing Legionnaire’s disease. Here is the list:

  • Have a weakened immune system due to other illness
  • Victims of chronic lung disease
  • Cigarette smokers
  • Victims of cancer
  • Over aged


The disease is tackled with Legionella training and is treated always using antibiotics. The treatment is started as soon as it is suspected. Immediate treatment will allow the patient to minimize complications.

Many people completely recover the treatment without even get hospitalized. However some needs to get admitted into hospital to undergo a formal serious treatment. They may be injected with certain fluids and receive oxygen or other breathing support as well.

Victims receiving prompt treatment get positive results usually. However the length of recovery is dependent on how severe the disease is how quickly the treatment is received. The disease is more serious with people already having other diseases so it may require more time.

There is no such vaccine available for Legionnaire’s disease. But it is still possible to prevent this disease by cleaning the potential sources where it tends to grow. Disinfect and clean the cooling towers, use chemical treatments in pools and keep the water systems hot to eliminate growth of such bacteria.