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Legionnaires’ Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Environmental factors are one of the significant causes of health illnesses and infections. One of these medical conditions that are acquired through dirty water and the air is Legionnaires’ disease. This condition is due to a bacteria called Legionella pneumophilia, which is commonly found in soil or water.

People get sick with Legionnaires’ disease when they inhale the Legionella pneumophilia bacteria affecting soil or water. Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are often mistaken for that of flu. Nonetheless, it is essential to seek medical treatment or Legionella testing if you suspect your condition to be more than just simple flu.

Causes and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease

As mentioned, the bacteria Legionella pneumophilia usually thrives in water and soil and can multiply in human-made systems such as air-conditioning systems, piping, and exhausts. There is a higher risk of this kind of bacteria to spread faster in large structures and establishments and cause such illnesses. The bacteria can be spread through the following:

  • Swimming pools/hot tubs
  • Potable water
  • Water tanks
  • Public fountains

Aside from inhalation, Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted through other ways, such as:

  • When you accidentally choke on a Legionella-contaminated liquid, which can then enter your lungs
  • When you are tending your garden and inhale soil that contains the Legionella bacteria

People who smoke, have weakened immune systems, or those older than 50 years old are at higher risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease. In worst cases, a person who gets infected with this disease can experience kidney or respiratory failure, or septic shock.

How to avoid contracting Legionnaires’ disease

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Although it might not always be easier to get rid of the Legionella bacteria, it can still be possible to lessen the risk of getting infected with it. Here are some ways to prevent the occurrence of Legionnaires’ disease:

  • For commercial building plumbing systems, make sure that the water system (for hot and cold waters) is clean at all times. Ideally, hot water temperature should be more than 50 degrees, while cold water temperature should ideally be 25 degrees or lower.
  • Also, make sure to clean and disinfect ventilation systems.
  • Make it also a habit to flush unused faucet lines every week. This is to prevent the buildup of Legionella bacteria.

If you think that you have Legionnaires’ disease, you should see a doctor immediately. It can be hard to differentiate it from the simple flu. Here are the common symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease:

  • Fever that is 40 degrees and above with chills
  • Frequent coughing
  • Muscle pains and headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Dazed and feeling of confusion

A series of blood or urine tests can be done to confirm whether you have the condition or not. You likely have the condition if it is prevalent within your community. This disease should be preventable.

One way is to keep plumbing and ventilation systems clean or well-maintained. Also, you need to avoid smoking and overcome other harmful vices that can put you at a higher risk of having this condition. If you need more information, seek the advice of a medical expert.

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