Legionnaires' disease

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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 ?
After SHMC discovered their third case of Legionnaires Disease they called the CDC.
The first patient diagnosed has died but the hospital says it's unlikely they died from Legionnaires Disease
Legionnaires Disease is generally transmitted through legionella bacteria found in contaminated water supplies and is airborne though a building's plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
While the media attention has been intense and the questions sometimes difficult, the coverage has helped us reach out to the community and helped everyone better understand Legionnaires Disease and what we have done to confront it," said Sheldon.
Summary: A hospital patient in his 50s has died in an outbreak of Legionnaires disease with the number of confirmed and suspected cases rising.
There are now 21 confirmed cases of Legionnaires disease in Edinburgh (Reuters)