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WHAT IS LEGIONNAIRES DISEASE?

Legionnaires Disease is a type of infection caused by the legionella bacterium commonly found in water sources. It cannot be contracted by drinking water, and it cannot be passed from person to person. It can be contracted from any water system where the legionella bacteria exist including domestic systems and air conditioning units.

When legionella has a nutrient source and the water it is living in is between 20c and 42c then it will multiply and become a real danger to human health. When the legionella bacteria are inhaled it can develop into Legionnaires Disease. In the UK there are many reported cases of Legionnaires Disease each year, and this will exclude many more actual cases that do not get reported as the patient thinks it is flu from which they have suffered and recovered from. The number of deaths in the UK in 2009 exceeded 40, and the 2012 outbreak in Edinburgh had over 100 cases reported, 3 deaths, and a number of sufferers taking legal action.

How do you get Legionnaires Disease?

Legionnaires Disease is contracted by inhaling the mist, spray, or vapour from a contaminated water source and exhibits initially as a severe cold or as flu. It begins with headaches, aches and chills which worsen to become a high fever (up to 40c) and increasing muscle and joint pain. If it infects the lungs then a cough can develop along with shortness of breath.

The disease is caused by inhaling the legionella bacteria and this can be found in any water system where the correct conditions exist for it to grow and multiply. This is not just in public water systems, and legionella bacteria can be found in domestic household systems too.

The question is often how to spot the symptoms of Legionnaires Disease, as they are initially very similar to those of flu. Once a patient has been diagnosed then clinicians will know how to treat the disease.