General Illness Information
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Excess alcohol consumption.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnostic tests may include laboratory blood studies, X-Rays and culture of sputum, and bronchoscopy.
- 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.