(Legionnaire's Pneumonia )
Legionnaire's disease is a lung infection. It is a form of pneumonia]]> . It got its name after it struck at the American Legionnaires Convention in 1976.
This disease is caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophilia . The bacteria are most often found in sources of standing water. It may be found in cooling towers, HVAC systems, and air conditioners. It can also be found in soil.
Legionnaire's disease can be contracted by:
- Breathing water vapor from a standing water source that contains Legionella bacteria into the lungs
- Breathing dust from soil containing Legionella bacteria into the lungs
The infection does not move from one person to another.
Factors that increase your chance for Legionnaire's disease include:
- Advanced age
- Sex: male
- Excessive ]]>alcohol]]> intake
- Chronic lung disease
- Weakened immune system (as with ]]>AIDS]]> )
- People with kidney failure
- Taking cortisone or other immunosuppressive drugs
- Organ transplant patients
- Working with soil, especially newly tilled soil or potting soil
Symptoms may include:
- Fever (often high)
- Chills and muscle aches
- Dry cough
- Chest pain with coughing or breathing
- Loss of appetite
Symptoms that develop if the infection becomes serious include:
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea]]>
- Mental problems, confusion, or memory loss
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
- Blood tests—to look for high or rising antibodies to Legionella bacteria
- Sputum tests—mucus from deep inside your lungs is examined to identify the cause of the infection
- Kidney function tests—poor kidney function is often seen with Legionella infection
- Urine tests—to check for Legionella proteins in the urine
- Chest x-ray]]> —to diagnose pneumonia or lung infection
This disease is usually treated with antibiotics such as:
- Macrolides (eg, azithromycin]]> , ]]>clarithromycin]]> , or ]]>erythromycin]]> )
If you are diagnosed with Legionnaire's disease, follow your doctor's instructions .
Proper design, maintenance, and cleaning of high risk areas can reduce the risk of spreading the disease. This inlcludes any area with standing water.
You can reduce your risk of getting Legionnaire's disease by:
- Not smoking
- Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink
If you work with freshly tilled soil or potting soil:
- Wear gloves and a mask.
- Don't inhale dust from the soil.
- Moisten the soil to lower the amount of dust.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Communicable Disease Control Unit
Arcavi L, Benowitz NL. Cigarette smoking and infection. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:2206-2216.
Beers MH, Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. 17th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons; 1999.
Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety website. Available at: http://www.ccohs.ca/ . Accessed October 11, 2005.
National Center for Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/ . Accessed October 11, 2005.
Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. Churchill Livingstone Inc; 2005.
Last reviewed February 2009 by ]]>Igor Puzanov, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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