Photo by Kelly Sikkema
Legionnaires disease is a type of pneumonia, or lung infection, that is caused by Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease is contracted when individuals breathe in particles contaminated with the Legionella bacteria.
The symptoms of Legionnaires disease can seem similar to other respiratory infections, but can be fatal if not treated properly. Individuals over 50 years old are more vulnerable to the disease, as well as individuals who have a history of smoking, a history of heavy drinking, pulmonary-related illness, immuno-suppression, and chronic respiratory or renal illnesses.
What are the Symptoms of Legionnaires Disease?
Generally, the first symptoms of Legionnaires disease tend to be:
- Muscle aches
- High Fever (May be 104 F or higher)
Other symptoms that usually develop include:
- Cough, which might bring up mucus and sometimes blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Confusion or other mental changes
Symptoms usually begin 2 to 10 days after being exposed to the bacteria, but it can take longer so people should watch for symptoms for about 2 weeks after exposure.
How is Legionnaires Disease Diagnosed?
Legionnaires disease is diagnosed similarly to other types of pneumonias. Legionnaires disease is typically diagnosed through a urine test that checks for the presence of legionella antigens. In addition to this, a doctor may run other urine tests or blood tests.
Chest X-rays are common tests for individuals with Legionnaires disease. While this kind of test does not test specifically for Legionnaires disease, it is an important tool used to determine the extent of the infection of a patient’s lungs.
Finally, an important test that may be done is a sample of the sputum (phlegm) or lung tissue. This test is helpful to be able to be able to identify the source of the infection. Epidemiologists can work to link the specific type of Legionella found to a setting with a confirmed source of Legionella. This means that the sample taken from the lung of the patient would be tasted to match the environmental sample that was taken. If the samples match, or if the samples match others infected in the outbreak, Epidemiologists are able to identify the source.
What Are The Possible Complications From Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires disease can lead to respiratory failure, septic shock, or acute kidney failure. All of these complications can be fatal, so it is important to seek the proper treatment for Legionnaires disease. About 1 out of every 10 people who get sick with Legionnaires’ disease will die due to complications from their illness.
How is Legionnaires’ Disease Treated?
Legionnaires disease is treated with antibiotics. Many individuals who are diagnosed with Legionnaires disease require a stay in the hospital or another healthcare facility.
Have You Or A Loved One Been Diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks still continue around the world and here in the United States to this day. If you believe you have been exposed to Legionnaires disease, contact Jules Zacher for a free consultation. If you do not want to schedule a consultation online, please call us now at 215-988-0160
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