Plant & equipment
What is it ?
- Legionnaires' disease is a severe respiratory infection. It is caused by bacteria (primarily the legionella pneumophila bacteria).
How do you get it ?
- Legionnaires' disease can develop after an individual has been exposed to, and inhaled a mist of water droplets infected with the Legionellae bacteria.
Exposure can result from air conditioning and industrial plant (which includes cooling towers or evaporative condensers), showers, whirlpool baths or jacuzzis.
Who will get it ?
- Less than 5% of the population are susceptible to the disease.
However certain groups of the population are more at risk than others eg smokers, males, people over 50 and those severely ill (eg chronic lung disease) or immuno compromised eg on steroids.
What are the symptoms ?
- Its onset is characterised by extreme tiredness and headache. Within forty eight hours there is a high fever, non productive cough and aching muscles. Temperatures commonly reach 102 - 105o F. The patient will be too breathless to talk comfortably.
How long after exposure do symptoms begin ?
- Typically 2 - 10 days. In most cases onset of the disease will start within 5 - 6 days.
Is it contagious ?
- No. Person to person transmission has not been documented.
Are there any complications ?
- In most cases no, however it can cause heart failure. Recovery can take several weeks to several months.
How is it treated ?
- A course of antibiotics is administered. The sooner they are administered the better the chances of survival and the better the recovery. Some 25% of those diagnosed as having Legionnaires' disease require intensive care.
How can the disease be prevented ?
- Break the chain of infection.
The links in this chain are : 1) Multiplication, 2) Aerosol formation & dispersal, 3) Inhalation and 4) Susceptibility.
Break one or more of the links in this chain and you will prevent infection.