Legionnaires Disease

Legionnaires Disease is caused by a bacteria which produces a severe form pneumonia which can be fatal.

The bacteria lives and multiplies in contaminated air conditioning and hot water systems, mainly in hotels and hospitals and spreads through the ducts and pipes of the systems concerned. Water passing through contaminated shower heads and taps can spread the disease. Hot tubs and spas which are not cleaned out regularly can be a source of the disease.

It is essential that all heat exchange systems involving water should be regularly serviced and kept thoroughly clean with no sludge of still water left lying about.

Legionnaires disease is caught by breathing in the infection from the air. Person to person spread has not been confirmed. The disease is mainly seen in the middle age to older group and if you smoke you are more likely to catch the disease.

Symptoms of Legionnaires disease start off like a moderately sever attack of influenza. The incubation period can range from 2 to 10 days. In about half of the cases a high temperature develops within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of symptoms and the illness settles on the chest with the production of nasty yellow sputum. The disease gradually becomes worse during the first 4 to 6 days and after another 5 days dramatic improvement can occur with a drop in temperature occurring on an average after 2 weeks from the onset of symptoms. The chest symptoms of sputum and cough can linger on for several more days and convalescence might take several weeks with tiredness being the main problem.

Testing for Legionnaires disease can be difficult and requires the demonstration of the germ in the sputum of the patient. It can be cured by the use of certain specific antibiotics but in spite of this, approximately 15% of patients sick enough to need hospitalisation, die.

If Legionnaires disease is suspected, then your doctor is in a position to possibly establish the diagnosis and institute early treatment which could in some cases, be life saving.

- Anaemia - Anaesthetics and Anaesthesia
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- The Overactive Thyroid Gland - The Underactive Thyroid Gland
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- Tonsillitis and Complications

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1996 Immediate Assistants Pty Ltd.

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