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Legionnaires’ disease

What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Where is Legionnaires’ disease found?
What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?
How is Legionnaires’ disease spread?
How can I keep from getting Legionnaires’ disease?
If I’ve been exposed to Legionnaires’ disease, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
What treatments are available for Legionnaires’ disease? How serious is the disease?
How many cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
Where can I get more information on Legionnaires disease?

What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella. The bacteria got its name in 1976, when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion suffered from an outbreak of this disease.

Where is Legionnaires’ disease found?
The Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. The bacteria grow best in warm water, like the kind found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, or parts of the air-conditioning systems of large buildings.

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires' disease can have symptoms similar to that of many other forms of pneumonia, making it difficult to diagnose at first. Common symptoms include a high fever, chills, cough, headache and muscle aches.  

How is Legionnaires’ disease spread?
People get Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) that has been contaminated with the bacteria. An example of this may be breathing in the steam from a whirlpool spa that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected.

The disease is not spread from person-to-person.

How can I keep from getting Legionnaires’ disease?
Measures to prevent the disease range from improving cooling towers and plumbing systems to decontaminating an infected water source.

If I’ve been exposed to Legionnaires’ disease, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill. The initial symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can occur between two and 14 days after exposure to the bacteria.

What treatments are available for Legionnaires’ disease? How serious is the disease?
Most cases can be treated with antibiotics and healthy patients usually recover from infection; however, Legionnaires’ disease can be serious and can cause death in five to 30 percent of cases.

How many cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
In 2014, six cases of Legionnaires' disease were reported in Northern Kentucky. 

Where can I get more information on Legionnaires disease?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or call the Health Department at 859.363.2070.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention