Legionnaires’ Disease: An Overview
Legionnaires’ Disease is an insidious illness
Many diseases can be painful and debilitating, but Legionnaires’ is especially bad.
The following video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a good overview:
What causes Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ is a severe form of pneumonia, accompanied by lung inflammation. The inflammation is caused by a bacteria referred to as legionella.
Generally, the condition develops between 2-10 days following exposure.
What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease?
- High fever (often 104 degrees)
- Muscle pains
After the 2nd day more symptoms can emerge, such as:
- Coughing up mucus or blood
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea
- Increased feelings of confusion
How do you get infected by Legionnaires’ Disease?
First, the good news: most people who are exposed to the legionella bacteria don’t get sick. But some folks do, and the infection usually is water-borne.
For instance, if you inhale water that has the legionella bacteria you’ll often get Legionnaires’ disease. The infected water is found in common places, such as:
- Showers (usually ones at hotels or public places, even co-ops)
- Hotel swimming pools, hot tubs, whirlpools
- Water fountains
- Gym equipment
- Air-conditioning units (usually ones in large buildings)
- Water systems (such as used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels)
- Supermarket produce areas (e.g. lettuce sprayers)
Water is a main source of infection, but soil can be as well
The legionella bacteria is contained in water droplets, specifically aerosolized droplets. So choking, or coughing while drinking something, is often one way you’d get Legionnaires’ disease.
But you can also contract the disease from infected soil. Some people have been infected while potting soil or while working in a garden.
Infographic Source: CDC
How contagious is Legionnaires’ Disease?
The bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from one individual to another. So it’s not contagious.
Who’s most likely to get Legionnaires’ Disease?
Most people who are exposed to the Legionnaires’ bacteria (legionella) don’t get sick. But, the following folks are generally more susceptible to getting the disease:
- People who are 50 or older
- People who smoke
- People with a chronic lung disease
- People with weakened immune systems
Complications from Legionnaires’ Disease
There are several complications that can result from Legionnaires’ disease. Some of them include:
Respiratory failure: when the lungs can no longer supply enough oxygen, or can’t remove carbon dioxide from the blood.
Acute kidney failure: when the kidney can no longer remove waste from the blood. When an individual’s kidneys fail, the level of waste and fluid within the body can reach dangerous levels.
Septic shock: when one experiences a sudden, severe drop in blood pressure —usually because of decreased blood flow to vital organs, such as the brain and kidneys.
How do you know for sure if you have Legionnaires’ Disease?
The disease is confirmed by doing chest x-ray, accompanied by a physical exam. Also, there are various lab tests to determine if the legionella bacteria is present, most importantly a urinary antigen test. So, it’s not that hard to make a definitive determination.
How is Legionnaires’ Disease treated?
Legionnaires’ is treated with antibiotics. The antibiotics are designed to kill the legionella bacteria. With this treatment method, most healthy people get better fairly quickly, usually within 10 days.
However, if one doesn’t get better quickly with antibiotics they may face hospitalization and likely weeks of treatment in the Intensive Care Unit.
Can Legionnaires’ be completely cured?
If Legionnaires’ disease is not treated promptly and effectively, the condition can be fatal—especially if your immune system has been weakened for any reason.
Most victims recover, but between 5% and 30% of people who get the disease die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC reports that between 2005 – 2009 – 8% of the cases resulted in deaths.
When Legionnaires’ disease is effectively treated the symptoms will usually disappear permanently. But, in some cases, the symptoms will only be partially resolved and long-term respiratory problems may persist.
Contact The Legionnaires’ Lawyer – Johnny Denenea – Today to Get Started on Your Case
Obviously, if you think you have it (or know someone who may be infected), you should act quickly and get to a doctor as soon as possible. And, you should gather information quickly to ascertain where the disease was contracted and bring that to the attention of health officials to help forestall the likelihood of someone else contracting the disease in the same manner. Contact Johnny Denenea as soon as possible to get started investigating your case and fighting for the compensation you deserve.
Johnny also welcomes referrals at any point in the litigation process. Working with other attorneys around the country results in helping victims suffering from exposure to Legionnaires’ disease get MORE for their injuries.