Legionella Bacteria: Symptoms and Control

Legionella is dangerous bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever. It infects the lungs and causes a severe type of pneumonia.

Origin of Legionella:-

The bacteria are found naturally occurring in freshwater environments. Eg. Lakes and streams. It may spread into the water we use for household purposes. This raises a concern and we must control the spread of this disease. It can multiply its growth in a building water system. The bacteria become harmful when it splits into particles small enough for a person to breathe. Drinking water may contain Legionella bacteria but is not harmful unless it accidentally enters the lungs while drinking.

This bacteria is vulnerable to:-

  • Elderly i.e. more than 50 years
  • Smoking both active smokers and past smokers.
  • A person suffering from chronic lung disease
  • Weak immunity
  • Cancer patients
  • Patients of diabetes, kidney failure or liver failure

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease: – This type of  disease is very similar to other lung infections hence their symptoms are quite common. The symptoms take a few days to develop, thus it is advisable to be observant for 14 days and report to a medical professional if you experience any of the given symptoms.

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea

Pontiac Fever:-  It is a milder condition when compared to Legionnaires’ disease. The symptoms are fever and body ache. The symptoms are evident within a few hours to around 3 days after exposing to the bacteria. However, the conditions do not last for more than a week.

Diagnosis:-  The diseases can be diagnosed by conducting a lab test of urine or sputum.

Treatment:-  The Legionella control can be achieved by taking precautions. It can be treated through antibiotics. A patient of this disease should follow all precautions as complications in Legionella may cause the failure of lungs. According to a study, around 10% of people suffering from Legionella may die eventually due to complications.


The most important method for Legionella control is that the water supply in residential places must be strictly monitored. The water systems that may be vulnerable to Legionnalla are:-

  • Hot tubs
  • Hot water tanks and heaters
  • Large plumbing systems
  • Cooling water systems
  • Decorative Fountains.

Another interesting fact about Legionella is that it prospers best in warm water. This makes hot tubs most vulnerable for the presence of Legionella. You must check the hot tubs regularly for cleaning and disinfecting.

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