During a routine check-up performed in a hospital from Minneapolis, the health inspectors discovered that the water was contaminated with Legionnaire’s bacteria. On the 19th of November, after analyzing a couple of water samples, collected from all over the hospital, the inspectors uncovered a major issue. The hospital’s water taps were infected with Legionnaire’s.
Although it would seem that most of the water sources were contaminated, no case of Legionnaire’s disease had been registered so far.
Legionnaire’s disease, also known as Legion fever or legionellosis is a rather unusual form of pneumonia. Legionellosis is being caused, in almost 90 percent of the cases, by a bacteria called Legionella pneumophila. Typically, Legionellosis has violent manifestation, but there are cases in which patients infected with this bacteria develop mild symptoms. Pontiac fever is one of the milder manifestations of the disease. Its symptoms resembles that of a mild case of influenza.
The bacteria capable of producing legionellosis is typically waterborne. From recent discoveries we know that the bacteria can withstand temperatures between 25 and 45 degrees Celsius. When infecting an organism, the bacteria usually attacks the macrophages and the lung cells.
How do you known if you’ve come down with a case of legionellosis? The bacteria has a rather long incubation period. It require about two to ten days in order to properly develop, although clinicians have reported atypical cases in which the incubation period would last more than 20 days.
The classical signs associated with legionellosis are fever, chills and a dry cough. In some cases, patients have reported that they had even cough up blood. Among other symptoms associated with this disease are sore muscles, violent headaches, fatigue and ataxia. Gradual loss of appetite, throbbing pain in the chest area, vomiting and diarrhea are also associated with Legionnaire’s disease.
There is no one unaffected by Legionnaire’s. According to the reports, elder people and those with a compromised immune system are particularly affected by this disease.
Legionellosis is usually treated by using a combination of 2 or more antibiotics. Ketolides, macrolides and tetracycline have shown promising results against the bacteria. The disease was first discovered in 1976, when a number of members from the American Legion came down with atypical cases of pneumonia. Unfortunately, most of them succumbed to the disease before any treatment could be applied. Estimates from that time placed the death toll at 34 death, and another 180 individuals displayed signs of infection.