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Legionellosis – An Overview

Legionellosis

is a complicated and serious form of pneumonia which can be fatal in some cases. This disease is primarily caused by the bacterial causative agent, Legionella pneumophila. Also, several other species of legionella can cause

legionellosis

. These bacterial species are naturally found in the environment. They survive in damp, warm places and warm water. Most commonly, they are present in water bodies like hot springs, creeks, rivers, lakes and other water bodies. Also, the bacterial species can be found in potting mix and soil. Read on to know more about

legionellosis

.

An Overview of Legionellosis

The bacterial causative agent,

Legionella pneumophila

was identified first in 1977, when there was a severe outbreak of pneumonia in the USA in 1976. Legionellosis is strongly linked with outbreaks due to poorly maintained and polluted water systems (artificial), especially evaporative condensers or cooling towers associated with industrial cooling and air conditioning, whirlpool spas and cold and hot water systems.

The exact amount of the legionella required to cause an infection is yet unknown, although the amount is usually assumed to be very low. This assumption is based on the fact that patients are infected immediately after a few minutes of exposure to an outbreak source. The infection depends on the following factors:

  • Virulence level of the specific strain
  • Host factor of the bacterial strain
  • Formation and spread of the bacterial agent through air
  • Water contamination level by the infective bacteria

Legionellosis defines the non-pneumonic and pneumonic forms of the infection with the bacterial agent, Legionella. The non-pneumonic form is usually a self-limiting, acute flu which lasts for 2-5 days. Incubation period for the bacteria is from a few hours to 48 hours. Symptoms of this legionellosis include muscle pain (myalgia), malaise, headache, chills and fever. With this form of infection, no deaths have been reported.

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