Legionnaire Disease and Pontiac Fever (cont.)
George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Legionnaires' disease and Pontiac fever (legionellosis) facts
- What causes legionellosis? What is the history of Legionnaires' disease?
- Where is the Legionella bacterium found?
- What are risk factors for Legionnaires' disease?
- How is Legionnaires' disease spread? How does a person get Legionnaires' disease?
- How common is Legionnaires' disease?
- What are the usual symptoms of Legionnaires' disease?
- How is the diagnosis of Legionnaires' disease made?
- What are medical treatments for Legionnaires' disease?
- Is it possible to prevent Legionnaires' disease?
What are the usual symptoms of Legionnaires' disease?
Patients with Legionnaires' disease usually develop a fever, chills, and a cough. The cough may either be dry or produce sputum. Some patients with Legionnaires' disease also have muscle aches, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite, and occasionally diarrhea. Legionnaires' disease can cause a severe pneumonia, seriously affect breathing, even lead to respiratory failure and adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In some cases, the heart rate is slower than expected for the degree of fever. There are no specific symptoms that directly identify Legionnaires' pneumonia. Legionnaires' pneumonia presents in a manner similar to Chlamydia pneumonia and Mycoplasma pneumonia, so-called atypical pneumonias (previously referred to as "walking pneumonia"). These are referred to as atypical because the associated symptoms and signs are unlike typical pneumonia (as characterized by Streptococcus pneumonia), which involves spiking high fevers, sudden onset, cough, and purulent sputum and often chest pain and a localized infiltrate on chest X-ray.
People with Pontiac fever experience a self-limiting influenza-like illness with fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches but, by definition, do not have pneumonia. Sickened individuals generally recover in two to five days without treatment.
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