Legionnaires Disease
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The Legionnaires disease is a type of infectious ailment caused by bacteria that can bring pneumonia. The bacterium responsible for causing this disease is known as Legionella pneumophila in clinical terminologies. It is omni present water based tiny organism that thrives in the warmer climate areas. The disease was named in 1977.

The infections caused by the bacteria can take two forms in the victim’s body after transmission. When the bacterium contaminates severely a victim contracts Legionnaires' disease and ultimately develops pneumonia. On the other hand, a milder form of contamination by the bacterium leads to the development of Pontiac fever, a respiratory disorder resembling acute influenza. The fatality rate of the infection varies from one place to another.

As a matter of act, men are more vulnerable to this menace than women. The men in their middle age are more at risk than others. The disease attacks mainly in early autumn and late summer.

Causes of Legionnaires disease

The bacterium causing the disease was discovered in the American Legion convention in 1976 in Philadelphia after an outbreak of Pneumonia took place. The main route of transmission for this bacterium is water.

It gets transmitted from the infected water sources to a person’s body when he or she inhales the water droplets. The most usual sources are the air conditioning systems that use water based cooling towers. It can also spread from the ponds and fountains and the communal showers.

People who consume lots of alcohol or are habitual smokers face increased risk of developing this disorder. People with poor immunity and chronic lung ailment are the other endangered lots.

Signs of Legionnaires disease

The most prominent symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include flu like illnesses. The victims may also suffer from headache, fever and muscle aches in various parts of the body. Some people also develop chest pain, short breath, and dry cough. The digestive system of an afflicted person can go haywire in this ailment.

The patients may suffer from frequent vomiting and abdominal pain. Some people also complain of hallucinations as their nervous system is affected adversely. The appetite and co-ordination capabilities of an affected person also take a nosedive.

The laboratory tests conducted on the patients of this disease reveal that the liver functions as well as the renal functions get badly affected. The chest X-rays often indicate at pneumonia. However, it should be noted that the symptoms of radiological findings are not adequate to differentiate Legionnaires' disease from the other variants of pneumonia.

The period between the contamination and appearance of the symptoms vary from 2 to 10 days. Pontiac fever, however, sets in early. It needs to be remembered that some people affected by the disease do not develop any of the aforesaid signs at all. For proper diagnosis, more specific and extensive tests need to be conducted.

Treatment for Legionnaires disease

The doctors usually rely on antibiotic drugs to treat the infections caused by Legionnaires' disease. The most widely used antibiotic medicines are azithromycin and levofloxacin. A special group of drugs named tetracyclines are used for treating children while for other people a drug called Macrolides is used. In most of the cases, the use of the antibiotics has been found to be effective.

The mortality rate of the disease is significantly diminished if the therapy is applied quickly after detection. The mild infection caused by the bacterium leading to the Pontiac fever does not need any special treatment as the symptoms subside a few days after appearing on their own.

The likelihood of contracting the disease can be significantly reduced if people adhere to healthy living habits. Special attention needs to be given to regular and proper cleaning of big water bodies like community swimming pools and air conditioning systems. People with weaker immune system should practice extra caution during the summer when the disease sets in. They should also refrain from heavy smoking and drinking as it aggravates the risk of contracting the ailment.

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