Legionnaires’ Disease

Definition:
Legionnaires’ disease, also known as Legionellosis, is a rare form of pneumonia.It takes its name from the first known outbreak which occurred in a hotel that was hosting a convention of the Pennsylvania Department of the American Legion in 1976...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Causes:

It is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. You usually get it by breathing in mist from water that contains the bacteria.The Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. The bacteria grow best in warm water, like the kind found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, or parts of the air-conditioning systems of large buildings. They do not seem to grow in car or window air-conditioners. The mist may come from hot tubs, showers or air-conditioning units for large buildings. The bacteria don’t spread from person to person.The disease is fatal in approximately 5% to 15% of cases.

CLICK & SEE..> :Legionella bacteria under the microscope

Symptoms:
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include fever, chills, a cough and sometimes muscle aches and headaches. Other types of pneumonia have similar symptoms. You will probably need a chest x-ray to diagnose the pneumonia. Lab tests can detect the specific bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease.

The bacteria are more likely to make you sick if you:

* Are older than 65
* Smoke
* Have a lung disease
* Have a weak immune system

Legionnaires’ disease is serious and can be life-threatening. However, most people recover with antibiotic treatment. Legionnaires’ has an incubation period of between two and 10 days.
Initial symptoms of are similar to those of flu – headache, musclepain, and a general feeling of being unwell.These symptoms are followed by high fever and shaking chills. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea may occur.On the second or third day, dry coughing begins and chest pain might occur. There may also be difficulty breathing.Mental changes, such as confusion, disorientation, hallucination and loss of memory, can occur to an extent that seems out of proportion to the seriousness of fever. Some patients may develop pneumonia. This could affect both lungs and lead to hospitalisation if severe.

Diagnosis:
Legionnaires’ disease is underreported and underdiagnosed, primarily because special tests are needed to distinguish Legionnaires’ disease from other types of pneumonia. To help identify the presence of legionella bacteria quickly, your doctor may use a test that checks your urine for legionella antigens — foreign substances that trigger an immune system response. You may also have one or more of the following:

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* Blood tests
* A chest X-ray, which doesn’t confirm Legionnaires’ disease but does show the extent of infection in the lungs
* Tests on a sample of your sputum or lung tissue
* A CT scan of your brain or a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) if you have neurological symptoms such as confusion or trouble concentrating

Risk Factorts:

Legionnaires’ disease usually strikes middle-aged people. Those at risk include smokers and those with an existing health problem.Many others may contract the bug and yet show no signs of infection. It is likely that many cases of Legionnaires’ disease go undiagnosed.People suffering from cancer or chronic kidney diseases are among those less able to fight infections.Chronic diseases, such as diabetes and alcoholism, also seem to increase vulnerability to Legionnaires’ disease.Cigarette smokers are more likely to contract Legionnaires disease, perhaps because smokers are generally more likely than non-smokers to develop respiratory tract infections.

Treatment:

Legionnaires’ is most often treated with the antibiotic drugs erthryomycin and rifampin. Recovery often takes several weeks.

Prevention:

The likelihood of Legionella infection can be best reduced by good engineering practices in the operation and maintenance of air and water handling systems.Cooling towers and evaporative condensers should be inspected and thoroughly cleaned at least once a year.Corroded parts, such as drift eliminators, should be replaced. Algae and accumulated scale should be removed.Cooling water should be treated constantly. Ideally, an automatic water treatment system should be used that continuously controls the quality of the circulating water.Fresh air intakes should not be built close to cooling towers since contaminated water particles may enter the ventilation system.This page contains basic information. If you are concerned about your health, you should consult a doctor .

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
BBC NEWS:8 Feb, 2003
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/legionnairesdisease.html
http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/legionnaires-disease/DS00853/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all

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