Legionella: what it is, symptoms and how it is transmitted

The legionellosiscaused by contact with the bacteria “Legionella”It may be a mild respiratory illness or also, serious enough to cause the death. In the last few hours, a third patient affected by bilateral pneumonia of unknown origin died in the province of Tucuman. It has already been ruled out that it is Covid, flu, influenza A and B, hanta virus and 25 other germs and experts suspect that it may be legionellosis.

What is legionellosis

Legionellosis is a life-threatening form of pneumonia and contracts through the inhalation of aerosols or drops of water contaminated with high concentrations of the bacteria “Legionella”.

Since it is a rare disease in Argentina, many health center laboratories do not have the methodology for diagnosis. However, there is a history of legionellosis outbreaks, such as the one that occurred in the city of Carmen de Areco in 2011 and during 2019 and 2020, nosocomial cases have been studied in two institutions, isolating Legionella pneumophila in the shower of one of the institutions .

how it spreads

Anyone can contract Legionella infection, however pneumonia and severe pneumonia are associated with vulnerable groups such as immunosuppressed, older adults, individuals with chronic lung problems and smokers. Most people get Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling the bacteria from the water or soil. To date, all studies have indicated that person-to-person transmission does not occur.

The showers, faucets, hot tubs, water fountains, sprinkler systems, commercial or industrial building cooling towers may represent a high risk for transmission of Legionella if during periods of inactivity No treatments have been carried out maintenance, cleaning and disinfection.


According to Mayo Cliniclegionellosis disease usually occurs two to ten days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It usually starts with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Muscle pains
  • Fever of 104°F (40°C) or higher

By the second or third day, the person will have other signs and symptoms, including the following:

  • Coughing up mucus and sometimes blood
  • Short of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Confusion or other mental changes

Although the disease primarily affects the lungs, it can occasionally cause infections in wounds and in other parts of the body, including the heart. A mild form of legionellosis known as Pontiac fever can cause fever, chills, headache and muscle aches. Pontiac fever does not infect the lungs, and symptoms usually go away within two to five days.

Related Articles

Back to top button