Why Should We Be So Cautious of Legionnaires Disease?

We’ve just discovered an interesting article posted in August this year on theconversation.com which discusses why people are still dying from legionnaires disease and why we should be so cautious of it.

In the nearly 50 years since epidemiologists first discovered Legionnaires’ disease, we have learned how to test for it, treat it and prevent it. So why are people still dying from it and why are more and more people becoming sick with it every single year?

From 2000 through 2017, the number of reports of Legionnaires’ disease increased over 500% in the United States. Many factors contribute to this increase: a true increase in cases, an older population at higher risk, better diagnosis, improved disease reporting and more thorough investigation of outbreaks by health departments. However, the fact remains that each year over 6,000 people are infected and over 250 people die from a disease that is largely preventable.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory disease that occurs when the bacteria Legionella pneumophila infect the lungs. In order to become sick, you have to inhale microscopic droplets of water that are contaminated with the bacteria. Simply drinking contaminated water is not enough to make you sick, and you cannot catch the disease from someone else who is sick.

How does it spread?

We have learned a lot about the disease and how it spreads since it was discovered and named nearly 50 years ago. In 1976, an estimated 180 attendees of American Legion convention in Philadelphia developed a mysterious respiratory illness and 29 died within days of the event. It wasn’t until months after that outbreak that the responsible organism, Legionella pneumophila, was first discovered. The bacteria was found growing in the hotel’s cooling tower and was spread throughout the hotel via the air conditioning system.

We now know that Legionella pneumophila can be regularly found in fresh water all over the world, which makes preventing disease a particular challenge. We also know that man-made water systems, including hot tubs, cooling towers, misters, fountains, hot water tanks, and even the complex plumbing systems in big buildings can grow and spread Legionella.

To read the full article post click here.

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