Legionnaires disease is brought about by the Legionella pneumophilia bacteria. These organisms have been detected in water delivery systems. One can acquire the infection by breathing in mists from contaminated water.
The reported outbreaks have been traced to contaminated humidifiers, whirlpool spas and air conditioning cooling towers as well as in hotels, hospitals and cruise ships. The incubation period is 2-10 days.
What are the indications?
The indications of legionnaires disease range from mild to severe. It is important to note that a form of pneumonia is a vital component of the disease and might include symptoms such as:
- Muscle aches
- Progressing breathing difficulty
The symptoms worsen during the initial few days of the infection before the individual starts to recuperate. Those who are at high risk of acquiring the condition include the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
Children rarely acquire the infection and for those who do, the illness is usually mild or do not have any symptoms at all. In case a child develops breathing issues, a doctor must be consulted.
How is it diagnosed
The doctor will gather a sample from the respiratory tract secretions and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Testing of the urine can also be carried out to check for the presence of bacteria as well as antibody tests that require a blood sample.
Antibiotics such as azithromycin are widely used to manage legionnaires disease. In serious cases , it can lead to the development of respiratory failure and even death particularly among the elderly or individuals with weakened immune systems.