Legionnaires' disease

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Related to Legionnaires' disease: pneumonia, Pontiac fever, Legionellosis

Legionnaires' disease

A type of pneumonia usually caused by infection with the bacterium Legionella pneumophila, but occasionally with a related species (such as L. micdadei or L. dumoffii). The disease was first observed in an epidemic among those attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1976. The initial symptoms are headache, fever, muscle aches, and a generalized feeling of discomfort. The fever rises rapidly, reaching 102–105°F (32–41°C), and is usually accompanied by cough, shortness of breath, and chest pains. Abdominal pain and diarrhea are often present. The mortality rate can be as high as 15% in untreated or improperly diagnosed cases. Erythromycin, new-generation fluroquinolones, and rifampicin are considered highly effective medications, whereas the penicillins and cephalosporins are ineffective.

While epidemics of Legionnaires' disease (also referred to as legionellosis) can often be traced to a common source (cooling tower, potable water, or hot tub), most cases seem to occur sporadically. It is estimated that Legionella spp. account for approximately 4% of all community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia. Legionnaires' disease is most fequently associated with persons of impaired immune status. Legionella bacteria are commonly found in fresh water and moist soils worldwide and are often spread to humans through inhalation of aerosols containing the bacteria. Legionnaires' disease is not a communicable disease, indicating that human infection is not part of the survival strategy of these bacteria. Therefore, the legionellae are considered opportunistic pathogens of humans. It is technology (air conditioning) and the ability to extend life through medical advances (such as transplantation and treatments for terminal diseases) that have brought these bacteria into proximity with a susceptible population.

For most humans exposed to L. pneumophila, infection is asymptomatic or short-lived. This is attributed to a potent cellular immune response in healthy individuals. Recovery from Legionnaires' disease often affords immunity against future infection. However, no vaccine exists at the present time. See Medical bacteriology, Pneumonia

Legionnaires’ disease

28 American Legion conventioneers die of flu-like disease in Philadelphia (1976). [Am. Hist.: Facts (1976), 573, 656]
See: Disease
References in periodicals archive ?
Mr Burridge notes: "City & Guilds-accredited courses are a way for risk managers to receive the specialist training and information they need to safeguard their workplaces against the risk of a legionnaires' disease outbreak.
The increase in cases of Legionnaires' disease is of particular concern for owners and managers of LTC facilities.
We have been speaking with health care professionals, who have assured us that legionnaires' disease, which can arise as a result of this bacteria, cannot be transmitted from person to person or as a result of drinking water or hand washing.
The surveillance of Legionnaires' disease associated with international travel might, at least partly, overcome this limitation.
Legionnaires' disease can lead to pneumonia and can be fatal.
A separate outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Quebec City took its eleventh victim Sunday.
A spokesman for Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, added: "We are treating a patient transferred from the University Hospital of North Staffordshire confirmed with Legionnaires' disease who is in a critical but stable condition.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "My sincere condolences go to the family and friends of the patient who passed away in Edinburgh tonight in a case linked to the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the city.
Dr Duncan McCormick, chairman of the Incident Management Team at NHS Lothian, said: "The number of patients with confirmed or suspected Legionnaires' disease has increased since Thursday.
THE number of confirmed and suspected cases of the potentially deadly Legionnaires' disease is set to rise, the Scottish Health Secretary said yesterday.
TWO YEARS after a Legionnaires' disease outbreak at a Nicosia private clinic caused the death of three new born babies, charges have been brought against four doctors who will appear in court next week.
AN OUTBREAK of legionnaires' disease in which two people died will be declared over on October 12 unless circumstances change, health officials have said.