The brain works in funny ways. I was thinking about ticks and how there seems to be so much concern over Lyme’s Disease, much more concern than when I was young. This line of thinking made me wonder about Legionnaires Disease. Go figure.
Legionnaires Disease first came to national prominence following an outbreak at the Belleview Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia during a Legionnaires convention. We do not often hear about it, but Legionnaires Disease is alive and well. This disease is caused by bacteria called, oddly enough, Legionella. This bacterium grows and thrives in warm water. The source of most infections is contamination of heating and cooling systems. The most recent outbreak I could find occurred in the South Bronx area of New York this July. It took authorities about a month to discover that the source of the infection was the Opera House Hotel. During this outbreak 116 people were sickened and 12 died.
Exposure to Legionella is not new. After the initial epidemic in Philadelphia, studies showed that many older patients had antibodies to Legionella indicating that infection with this organism had been around for some time. The diagnosis of a pneumonia caused by Legionella starts with an index of suspicion. The organism is difficult to culture but we can test for antibodies to the disease and begin appropriate antibiotic treatment, which is usually successful in curing the infection. Infections usually occur in clusters and this may be the first tip off that we may be dealing with Legionella.