Legionnaires’ disease recently claimed 11 lives in Quebec City and 3 lives in Chicago. Legionnaires’ disease, first identified in 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia sickened hundreds of people who had attended an American Legion convention in Philadelphia is caused by Legionella bacteria.
It is a deadly form of pneumonia contracted by inhaling airborne water droplets containing Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease, also called Legionellosis, can have symptoms like many other forms of pneumonia and so it can be hard to diagnose at first.
Symptoms of the disease may include include high fever, chills, and coughing. Some people may also suffer from muscle aches and headaches. Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 14 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria.
Legionella can proliferate in warm water, plumbing systems, cooling towers and many types of equipment, including respiratory care devices, whirlpool spas and baths, and humidifiers. It lives naturally in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Legionella family includes 48 species and 70 serogroups.
Legionnaire’s disease is most commonly linked to exposure to Legionella pneumophila, however, other species (i.e., L. micdadei, L. anisa) can cause the disease as well. L. pneumophila has many sub-groups called serotypes. L. pneumophila serotype 1 and 6 are commonly associated with Legionnaires’ Disease.
Legionnaires’ disease cases that occur in conjunction with an outbreak, or epidemic, are easier to diagnose. Early diagnosis aids effective and successful treatment. During an outbreak, fatalities may range from 5% for previously healthy individuals to 24% for individuals with underlying illnesses. Isolated cases of Legionnaires’ Disease are harder to detect and treatment may be delayed pending an accurate diagnosis. The overall fatality rate for isolated cases ranges from 10-19%.
We can help! For more information about our Legionella or bacteria testing services, please contact Mold & Bacteria Consulting Laboratories, please call our Ontario, Mississauga Office at 905-290-9101 or the British Columbia, Burnaby Office at 604-435-6555.