Legionella is a bacteria that causes the diseases named Legionnaire. The origins of this disease dates back to 1976 when over 200 people attending the American Legion Convention in Philadelphia were found with this mysterious illness which caused high fever, cough and chills. Thirty four people died of pneumonia. The disease was later named as Legionnaire in memory of the attendees. The bacteria was found to be inhabiting in the hotel’s air-conditioning system. Since then, several species of Legionella have been found.

The commonality

Every year, an average of 13,000 cases occur in United States every year. However, many go undiagnosed because the symptoms are mild and victims do not seek for treatment. The disease tend to affect people all ages but people who smoke cigarettes or have already existing chronic lung conditions are at high risk. People with weaker immune system are also at greater risk of getting the illness.

Legionella bacteria lives and grow in warm, stagnant water such as found in air-conditioning systems. People get infected by breathing in the mist from these water sources that are contaminated.


Symptoms of this disease can either be mild or severe. In fact some people may not even experience any symptoms at all. Some might experience severe fever, chills and cough. Some people may experience severe fatigue, headache, muscle aches, stomach pain and loss of appetite. Symptoms may occur between 2 and 10 days after exposure to the bacteria. Victim may even experience kidney problems.

Some people with mild symptoms may be treated within a short period of time using normal medications however some are hospitalized where the symptoms are severe. In cases where there are chronic lung problem, the condition may prolong and it gets worse. An approximate of 15% of these disease have been fatal. Nevertheless, the amount is decreasing due to betterment in medication and more effective Legionella training.


This disease is difficult for the doctors to distinguish from other types of pneumonia. There are specific tests but the doctor try to obtain as much information as they can regarding the patient. Patient’s history help doctors to figure out whether the specific bacteria attacked or not. Then they carry out physical examinations by taking chest X-rays to look for signs of pneumonia in lungs. In case of positive evidence, doctors carry out more blood tests to reach towards a confirmation. A urine test may also be carried out. The disease is treated with antibiotics and the patients receive intensive care and support.

It is very difficult to avoid this disease. It is technically impossible to eliminate this kind of bacteria at all. However, government and private institution must take the responsibility of maintaining plumbing and air-conditioning system. There must be regular inspection and cleaning to curtail the growth of bacteria minimizing the tendency of such disease occurring. In case of an outbreak, government teams must undertake the obligation to decontaminate the source of bacteria and provide the public access to health centers.

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