Legionnaires' Disease

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Legionnaires disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. People most frequently contract it by breathing in mist from water that contains the bacteria from hot tubs, showers or air-conditioning units. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about this disease in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Legionnaires disease is a severe form of pneumonia. It is caused by a bacterium known as legionella.

You cant catch Legionnaires disease from person-to-person contact. Instead, most people get Legionnaires disease from inhaling the bacteria. Older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires disease.

The legionella bacterium also causes Pontiac fever, a milder illness resembling the flu. Pontiac fever usually clears on its own, but untreated Legionnaires can be fatal.

Legionnaires disease frequently begins with headache, muscle pain, chills and fever of 104 or higher. By the second or third day, youll develop other signs and symptoms that may include:

Cough

Shortness of breath

Chest pain

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and

Confusion or other mental changes

Although Legionnaires disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and in other parts of the body, including the heart.

Although prompt treatment with antibiotics usually cures Legionnaires disease, some people continue to experience problems after treatment.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.