Legionnaires' Disease - Causes

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What causes legionellosis? What is the history of Legionnaires' disease?

Legionellosis is an infection that is caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. The disease has two distinct forms:

  • Legionnaires' disease is the more severe form of the infection, which may involve pneumonia. The onset of this form of the disease is usually two to 10 days after infection but can occur up to 16 days later. Legionnaires' disease acquired its name in 1976 after an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia. Later, the bacterium causing the illness was named Legionella pneumophila.
  • Pontiac fever is a milder illness that develops from hours to two days after initial infection and resolves spontaneously.

X-ray image of lungs of patient with Legionnaires' disease
X-ray image of lungs of patient with Legionnaires' disease

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Comment from: raven52, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 25

The steps from my backyard to the basement door were covered in fungus and algae. I decided to scrape it all off and clean it up and I ended up with Legionnaires' disease. I ended up in the hospital for three days with pneumonia. I needed lots of tests to arrive at the diagnosis. I was given intravenous antibiotics as well as a lot of fluids. I continued taking oral antibiotics at home. It took me a long time to recover.

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Comment from: highgrove101, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 08

I contracted Legionnaires' pneumonia at Easter 2015. It is now July and I have been left with the most incredible pain from my neck all the way down my right arm. The pain is numbness, puffiness in the arm, and an extreme ache. I am now on medication to try and control the pain. It is working but my arm feels like a ton of lead sometimes and I feel a little off the air now because of the medication! The symptoms I have had with it are extreme fatigue, breathlessness, chronic muscle aches and pains, bad memory and just no energy. The doctor gave me doxycycline which seems to halve the level within the space of 21 days. It is an awful type of pneumonia and I thought I would share my experience as there is not a lot of information out there about it.

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