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Legionnaires' Disease

Also called: Legionellosis 
 
 

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. You usually get it by breathing in mist from water that contains the bacteria. The mist may come from hot tubs, showers, or air-conditioning units for large buildings. The bacteria don't spread from person to person.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include high fever, chills, a cough, and sometimes muscle aches and headaches. Other types of pneumonia have similar symptoms. You will probably need a chest x-ray to diagnose the pneumonia. Lab tests can detect the specific bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease.

Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become sick. You are more likely to get sick if you

  • Are older than 50
  • Smoke
  • Have a chronic lung disease
  • Have a weak immune system

Legionnaires' disease is serious and can be life-threatening. However, most people recover with antibiotic treatment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

 

 
 
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Illustration of the major features of the lungs, including the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli

National Institutes of Health

 

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MedlinePlus links to health information from the National Institutes of Health and other federal government agencies. MedlinePlus also links to health information from non-government Web sites. See our disclaimer about external links and our quality guidelines.