Legionnaires' Disease

Legionnaires' Disease  or Legionella pneumophila :  It derives its name and notoriety from the peculiar, highly publicized disease that struck 182 people ( 29 of whom died) at na American Legion convention in Philadelphia in July 1976.
Legionnaires' disease is an acute bronchopneumonia produced by a gram-negative bacillus.  This disease may occur epidemically or sporadically, usually in late summer or early fall.  Its severity ranges from a mild illness, with or without pneumonitis, to multilobar pneumonia, with a mortality as high as 15%.  Pontiac syndrome mimics Legionnaires' disease but produces few or no respiratory symptoms, no pneumonia, and no fatalities, but it leaves the patient fatigued for several weeks.

Cause:  Legionnaires' disease bacterium (LDB), is an aerobic, gram-negative bacillus that probably is transmitted by an airborne route.  In may be spread through cooling towers or evaporation condensers in air-conditioning systems, in soil and excavation sites. (it is not spread from person to person).

LDB, usually affects more often in men than in women and is most likely to affect:
Middle aged and elderly persons
Immunocompromised patients
Patients with a chronic underlying disease
Alcoholics

Symptoms:

Onset of the disease may be gradual or sudden

After a 2 to 10 day  incubation period, nonspecific, prodromal signs and symptoms appear, including:

Diarrhea
Anorexia
Malaise
Diffuse myalgias and generalized weakness
Headache
Recurrent chills
Unremitting fever ( which may develop within 12 to 48 hours with a temperature that may reach 105 degree F
Cough - initially nonproductive but eventually may produce grayish, nonpurulent and occasionally blood streaked sputum.
Nausea & vomiting
May become disorientated, confused and may have mild temporary amnesia
Pleuritic chest pain
Tachypnea
Dyspnea
May experience bradycardia

Patient who develop pneumonia may also experience hypoxia

Other complication include hypotension, delirium, acute respiratory failure, renal failure, and shock (usually fatal).

**  See your doctor promptly if you have the above symptoms.

Treatment:

Antibiotic therapy

Antipyretics

Fluid replacement

May require oxygen therapy

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