Legionella Pneumonia

General Illness Information

Common Name:
Legionella Pneumonia

Medical Term: None Specified

Description: Infection of the lungs by a bacteria called Legionella Pneumophila. Named in 1976 after an epidemic affected 182 people attending the American Legion convention. Accounts for 1-8% of all pneumonias.

Causes: Infection by Legionella pneumophilia. It is spread between persons and contaminated sources. The germ is transmitted through the air, and the incubation period after exposure is 2 to 10 days.

Prevention: Have cooling and heating systems cleaned and inspected regularly. Do not smoke. Do not abuse alcohol.

Signs & Symptoms

  • General malaise.
  • Headache.
  • Chills and fever up to 105 degrees F.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Cough without sputum that progresses to one with gray or blood-streaked sputum.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite.
  • Altered mental status with confusion lethargy, or delirium
  • Weight loss.

Risk Factors

  • Chronic, debilitating illness including diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney failure or emphysema.
  • HIV infection.
  • Use of immuno-suppressive drugs, including cortisone and anticancer drugs, and in patients who have undergone organ transplantation.
  • Smoking.
  • Excess alcohol consumption.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnostic tests may include laboratory blood studies, X-Rays and culture of sputum, and bronchoscopy.

General Measures:

  • Treatment is with antibiotics and supportive care.
  • Hospitalization for intensive care and oxygen in severe cases
  • The following apply to mild cases or to care after hospitalization:
  • Use of cool-mist, ultrasonic humidifier to increase air moisture and thin lung secretions so they can be coughed up more easily. Clean humidifier daily.
  • Use warm compresses or a heating pad on the chest to relieve chest pain.
  • Practice deep-breathing exercises as often as your strength allows.


  • Antibiotics for over three weeks course. Be sure to finish all prescribed medication. Intravenous antibiotics may be given at the beginning.
  • If the cough is painful and doesn’t produce sputum, your doctor may advise you to use non-prescription medicine to suppress it. In general if the cough produces sputum, don’t use cough suppressants.
  • You may take aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce fever.


Rest in bed until completely well. Allow 2 to 4 weeks for recovery.


No special diet. Maintain adequate fluid intake by drinking 6-8 glasses daily.

Possible Complications :

  • Shock or delirium.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Heart-rhythm disturbances.
  • Overwhelming infection and death.


Usually curable with prompt diagnosis and treatment. If untreated, 15% of cases are fatal.


‘Nothing Specified’.

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