What is Legionnaires’ disease?
The disease is caused by the legionella bacteria and takes various forms. The mild form of the infection is legionella fever (also known as Pontiac fever). The more severe form, Legionnaires’ disease, resembles severe pneumonia.
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Where can you find the legionella bacteria?
The legionella bacteria can be found in the ground, and in water and tap water, but in such small quantities that it is harmless. The real danger of the bacteria is that it can multiply rapidly in temperatures between 25o and 55o Celsius, especially in stagnant water. This can be prevented if the water has a strong flow.
How do I become infected?
If water is vaporized in small droplets in the air, the bacteria may be inhaled which can lead to infection. However, there is no need to be cautious about drinking water (from the tap). The disease is not contagious.
What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease
The period between being infected with the bacteria and the first symptoms of the disease is 2 to 18 days. The symptoms are: rapid-onset headaches, muscle pains, feeling generally unwell, a high fever, coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue and confusion.
How can the disease be treated?
Legionnaires’ disease can be treated effectively if the doctor or specialist prescribes appropriate antibiotics immediately. The quicker this is done, the better. However, it can take a while before the patient is completely recovered. If treated incorrectly or too late, the patient could die.