Legionnaires’ disease is a serious ailment of lungs, which characterized by the inflammation of the lungs. It is caused by bacteria named Legionella. The bacteria thrive in water and soil. It lives in water sources such as ponds, river, swimming pools, and hot springs. It is transmitted through drinking water, inhaled water droplets containing the bacteria and contaminated soil. Its symptoms are high fever, body ache, headache and many more. It can be treated with appropriate antibiotics if it is diagnosed soon after the infection.
Is There A Vaccine For Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection of lungs that can be fatal. The habitat of the bacteria is water and soil. It lives in water sources such as ponds, river, swimming pools, and hot springs, usually in low density and cannot cause infection. It can grow in indoor water systems like hot water tubes, mist sprayers or air conditioners. Sometimes, it can multiply in the artificial water system of home and industry. It is most commonly spread by inhalation of contaminated water droplets present in air formed due to water sprays, jets or mists or by aspiration of contaminated water or ice.
Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease occur more commonly in summer season or in early autumn season. However, it can occur in any season in a year. Its outbreak is supported by the plumbing system of large buildings where legionella can grow, multiply and spread easily. Legionnaires’ disease is a serious form of pneumonia caused by bacteria namely legionella. It is not contagious but can cause life-threatening complications and even death due to multi-organ failure. Till today, there is no vaccine for Legionnaires’ disease that is known to prevent it. Antibiotic prophylaxis also fails to provide protection against the infection.
Exposure to legionella bacteria does not mean that every individual can catch the infection. There are certain factors that can risk you to contract the disease.
The risk factors that can lead to the infection of lungs by legionella bacteria are-
Smoking – regular smoking can reduce the strength of the lungs to fight infection as it damages the lung. Those who smoke are at more risk to catch the infection by Legionella.
Weak Immune System- people who have a weakened immune system due to chronic diseases like diabetes, other lung infections, cancer or who are immune compromised in diseases like HIV or AIDS can contract the infection easily. Those who are consuming certain medications such as corticosteroids or drugs that can prevent rejection of an organ after transplantation can also catch the infection.
Old Age- people above the age of 50 years are more susceptible to catch the infection.
Legionnaires’ disease can represent itself with mild febrile conditions to severe pneumonia leading to respiratory failure. Its incubation period is 2 to 10 days.
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are-
- High-grade fever with the temperature 104 F or above
- Confusion or alteration in mental states
- Cough mixed with blood and mucus
- Pain in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Muscular pain
- Stomach disorders like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Legionnaires’ disease is diagnosed by the urine test and blood tests. Imaging scans can be performed in severe cases to detect the extent of damage to kidneys and lungs. Legionnaires’ disease requires immediate diagnosis and treatment as it may complicate into conditions like progressive pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock, kidney failure or even death. It can be treated with antibiotics and ventilation.
There is no vaccine for the prevention of Legionnaires’ disease. Antibiotic prophylaxis cannot prevent the infection. It can be prevented only by the meticulous cleaning and disinfection of artificial water systems. Adequate measures should be adopted to ensure better water management. The temperature of the water must be maintained below 20 degree Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit, or above 60 degree Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- What is Legionnaires Disease: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Pathophysiology
- How Does A Person Get Legionnaires Disease?
- Can You Die From Legionnaires Disease?
- Can You Get Legionnaires Disease From Drinking Water?
- Can Legionnaires Disease Be Cured?
- Is Legionnaires’ Disease Contagious and How is it Spread?
- What is the Mortality Rate of Legionnaires’ Disease?