A legionnaires disease is a severe form of pneumonia. It has affected about 5,000 people in the US alone. The disease is caused by bacteria Legionella pneumophila. At present times, various treatment options are available. If you have this disease then you shouldn’t panic about it. Instead, find the right ways to treat it. Read below to understand more about the disease and its symptoms.
The most common reason why people catch this disease is because of inhaling the bacteria through water and soil. Also, it can easily attack older people, smokers, and those who have deteriorated immune systems. The legionella bacterium can also make a person ill. Hence, it can cause Pontiac fever. Though Pontiac fever is not a serious problem, it generally clears on its own. But this is not the case with Legionnaires disease. It needs immediate treatment to improve the chances of its ill effects.
What are the Symptoms of Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires disease develops within two to ten days due to exposure to legionella bacteria.
- Muscle pain
- High fever above 104 F (40 C)
Development of other Symptoms after 3rd day:
- Harsh cough that might even bring mucus or blood
- Short of breath
- Pain in chest
- Gastrointestinal indications including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Mental changes and confusion in the mind
Legionnaires disease directly affects the lungs. However, it can even cause infections in the body and wounds, including the heart.
What causes Legionnaires disease?
The unhygienic bacteria called Legionella causes the disease. It can even cause an infection like pneumonia.
Legionella is generally found in warm freshwaters, such as:
- whirlpool spas
- swimming pools
- hot tubs
- public showers
- natural water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and creeks
The bacteria easily develop outdoors. And can multiply as they grow. The people who get infected by this disease may be due to inhaling water droplets or fog in the air. These places are mostly polluted with bacteria. Hence, it can spread from person to person.
What are the Complications of Legionnaires Disease?
If the patient has severe Legionnaires disease and left untreated then it may be life-threatening. These problems include:
- Respiration problem due to pneumonia.
- Failure in the kidney leading to a stoppage of its functioning.
- Septic shock, when the infection is serious, it can even lead to organ failure and low blood pressure.
These difficulties and complications in the disease can progress further if the person has fragile immune systems.
Diagnosis of the Disease
To diagnose the disease, a blood test and a chest X-ray is recommended. It shows how the infection has spread. The doctor might also do a CT scan of your brain. It helps the doctor in finding out the problem from a series of X-ray images from different angles.
How is Legionnaires Disease Treated?
Legionnaires disease is generally treated with proper antibiotics. People suffering from this disease need to visit the doctor and must get the best treatment in a hospital. Sometimes, a serious complication or its non-treatment can lead to lung failure and death.
The doctor will recommend three different types of antibiotics:
- fluoroquinolones – such as Levaquin and moxifloxacin
- macrolides – such as azithromycin, erythromycin, and clarithromycin
- tetracycline – such as doxycycline
The doctor will recommend the best medication and antibiotic depending on the health condition.
How can the Disease be Prevented?
The best way to prevent the disease is to drink purified water. Drink and use clean water. It will help to control the Legionella bacteria from growing or multiplying.
This means you must check and maintain the water supply periodically. Hence, keep a check on infected water to keep it disinfected.
- sterilizing and washing cooling towers
- frequently cleaning the water storage areas like pools and hot tubs
- put chlorine chemicals in pool and spa
- keep the hot water range above 140°F and cold water below 68°F
- avoid smoking, it will lower the chances of infection
Hence, if you suspect that you are exposed to the Legionella bacteria, you must immediately consult a doctor.
Therefore, take the above-mentioned description into consideration to spread the information to all. Thus, if you know anyone who has this disease, then ask them to get the right treatment at the right time. It will also help in sharing the right information with the right people.