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Legionnaires’ disease

A type of pneumonia that is brought on by LEGIONELLA PNEUMOPHILA, a bacteria that breeds in moist and warm conditions, and stagnant water. Legionnaires’ disease can arise in outbreaks. The source of infection is usual an air-conditioning system in a big public building; the disease is contracted by inhalation of droplets of contaminated water.

The initial symptoms include diarrhoea, headache, abdominal and muscular pain, and a dry cough. Across the next few days, pneumonia develops, resulting in shaking, chills, high fever, coughing up of thick sputum (phlegm), delirium, and drowsiness. Kidney and liver damage can arise.

Treatment is via antibiotic drugs such as erythromycin. The majority of those affected recover but mortality rates are high among the elderly.


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