Legionella pneumonia is more appropriately known as Legionnaires' disease. This article briefs you on the symptoms of this severe form of pneumonia.
As said, legionella pneumonia has a more appropriate name in medical science, and that is known as Legionnaires’ disease. This is regarded as an acute respiratory and severe form of pneumonia (pneumonia is marked by the inflammation of the lungs). This infection gets its name from its causal pathogen – a gram-negative bacteria known as Legionella pneumophila. Although, this infection may afflict anyone, people who are immunocompromised, the elderly, and smokers stay at a high risk zone to contract the infection. The non-severe aspect of this infection is, it does not spread from person to person, but it occurs when the person directly inhales the bacteria. The reason this condition is known to be a severe concern is the nature of the complications that it produces. If left untreated, it may lead to respiratory failure, sudden and severe drop in blood pressure level, and acute case of kidney failure.
What Indicates Legionella Pneumonia?
The incubation period of legionella pneumonia is 2-14 days. By incubation period it means, the time between the development of the infection and the occurrence of the first symptoms. The early symptoms that might show up, include:
- Muscle pain
- Fever (40 degree Celsius or higher); may be accompanied by chills
Now these few symptoms usually occur in the first day, and for the next few days, the person may suffer from:
- Productive cough (cough that produces sputum)
- Blood in cough
- Pain in the chest
- Poor appetite
- Nausea/vomiting, and diarrhea
- Abnormal psychological changes
If the person is showing only from the first set of symptoms mentioned above, then he may be suffering from a milder form of legionella pneumonia. It is known as Pontiac fever. Fortunately, this condition does not affect the lungs, and tend to clear on its own within 2-5 days.
The bacteria Legionella pneumophila is the culprit in most cases, although other gram-negative bacteria may also cause the same. An important fact about the contraction of this condition is, people have more chances to contract this infection while indoors, than being outdoors. This is due to the presence of the bacteria. In outdoors, it thrives on soil and water, while indoors, there are a multiple water systems to home this microorganism. Stuffs such as hot tubs, shower heads, faucet, swimming pools, and decorative fountains serve as the source where the bacteria can exist, and be inhaled by the people. Even water systems found in hospitals, hotels, etc., and equipment for physical therapy can be regarded as the source of this pathogen. There are two modes though which this bacteria makes it into the body. One is through contaminated droplets of water, and the other is through soil.
Administration of antibiotics is the first line of treatment for legionella pneumonia. As you have read, the complications that arise from this condition may become life-threatening if treatment does not begin soon.
As far as prevention is concerned, it is possible to keep this infection at bay. However, it not only requires good personal hygiene, but extreme measures in keeping water systems cleaned and disinfected. Also, if you smoke then shunning the habit for good would reduce your chances of contracting this infection by an appreciable degree.