Legionnaires' Disease

Legionnaires’ Disease
What preppers need to know about this bacterial disease

Legionnaire's Disease, got its name from a 1976 outbreak in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, when people from the American Legion convention became ill.

Legionnaires’ Disease, which can lead to pneumonia and death, is
caused in warmer months by the Legionella bacteria which may
be present in warm fresh waters. This respiratory disease is
sometimes found in hot tubs, hot water tanks, large plumbing
systems, air conditioning units of large buildings and even
decorative fountains.

Legionnaires' Disease and what a prepper needs to know
Knowledge is everything when in comes to prepping for
Legionnaires’ Disease. Here are some basic facts about the
Legionella bacteria:

  • How does someone get sick from the Legionella bacteria?
    When a person breathes the mist containing the Legionella
    bacteria, the individual may become ill. Sometimes the
    bacteria causes an infection that seems more like a mild
    case of the flu, but when the infection reaches the lungs to
    cause pneumonia, it's a cause for concern.

  • How common is Legionnaire's Disease? It's not as
    uncommon as you might think, and this waterborne illness
    continues to kill and harm right here in the United States
    and Canada. Annually, there are 8,000-18,000 hospitalized
    cases occur in the U.S., most recently:

  • Illinios:
  1. In late September, 2015, Legionella bacteria surfaced in
    three suburban Illinois schools. The problem stemmed
    from the cooling towers at the schools.
  2. In late August the Illinois Department of Veteran's
    Affairs also confirmed an outbreak in residents at the
    Illinois Veterans Home- Quincy; however there were no
    known deaths.

Above, PBS looks into what caused the Legionnaires outbreak in New York

Legionnaire's disease is a form of pneumonia (lung disease)
that's on the rise. In the PBS New Hour video above, cooling
towers were seen as most problematic; however, new evidence
suggests that smokers are most at risk.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires' Disease is a bacterial disease that closely
resembles other types of pneumonia. The bacterium Legionella
pneumonia, which can be found in potable and non-potable
water, seems to attack people with weakened immune systems.

  • About the bacteria. Legionella is the bacteria that causes
    Legionnaires’ disease.  The bacterium, Legionella
    pneumophilam can be detected in rivers, lakes, and streams
    as they are natural inhabitants of the water. Bacteria are
    microscopic. These single-cell organisms live almost
    everywhere. While most are harmless, or even beneficial,
    the Legionella bacteria is deadly. About 5-30% of the cases
    reported are fatal; however, many cases go unreported and
    are classified as pnemonia.

Who gets Legionnaires'?
Anyone can get Legionnaires' Disease, but some people are more

  • Smokers. Smoking may increase risk of developing
    Legionnaires' disease if exposed to Legionella bacteria.
    Smokers are most at risk for inhaling the disease. Current or
    former smokers are most at risk through aspiration, which is
    usually defective in smokers. Essentially the protective
    mechanisms to prevent aspiration is defective in these

  • Children, elderly and people with diabetes, etc.. People
    most at risk, other than smokers, include children and the
    elderly, as well as people with compromised immune
    systems, or those who have diabetes or lung disease.

  • People who inhale mist. Anyone is at risk who may inhale
    mist from water with the bacterium, which may come from:
  • hot tubs
  • showers, faucets and plumbing systems
  • air-conditioning units in large buildings, including
  • mist machines and humidifiers
  • natural water sources

Treatment of Legionnaires' Disease
Legionnaires' Disease may be treated with antibiotics, including
erythromycin or rifampicin. Sometimes patients also receive
tetracycline. Many also receive pulmonary care, including use of a
nebulizer and oxygen to ease the lungs. Patients may also
benefit from steam inhalation treatments and cough

Antibiotics will cure most patients. The trio of antibiotics
physians may choose include:
  1. azithromycin - treats certain bacterial infections,
    including Bronchitis, Pneumonia, STD; and Infections of
    the ears, lungs, sinuses, skin, throat, and reproductive
  2. erythromycin - treats bacterial infections such as
    Bronchitis, Diphtheria, Legionnaires' Disease, Pertussis
    (Whooping Cough), Pneumonia, Rheumatic Fever, and
    Venereal Disease.
  3. clarithromycin - belongs to the class of medicines
    known as macrolide antibiotics. It works by killing
    bacteria or preventing their growth, making it an
    effective choice for physicians treating Legionnaires'

What you need to know about Legionnaires Disease...

  • Can not be spread person to person. Thankfully,
    Legionnaires’ can not be spread from person to person;
    HOWEVER, the disease contracted in two ways:
  1. breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria.
    Basically, infected water vapors show up in air
    conditioners, showers, faucets and other plumbing
    systems. It can also show up in hot tubs, and cooling
  2. aspiration (secretions in the mouth that get to the
    esophagus and stomach). Usually the aspiration may be
    defective in smokers and in people who already have a
    lung disease, as the protective mechanisms to prevent
    aspiration is defective in these people.

  • Symptoms: This deadly disease shows up as flu-like
    symptoms, including:
  • fever, chills and malaise
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • coughing
  • diarhhea
    NOTE: Pontiacs Fever is very similar. Clinicians will note the
    flu-like illness without pneumonia for diagnosis.

  • Risks:
  • Outbreaks are common in the summer and early fall.
  • People most at risk include children and the elderly,
    particularly those who have compromised immune systems:
  1. patients with cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure
  2. patients chronic asthma and emphysema
  3. smokers are in the highest risk category
  • Travellers are also at risk. (More than 20% of all cases are
    thought to be associated with recent travel.)
  • Exposure to whirlpool spas is an epidemiological risk factor.

  • Incubation: The incubation period is from two to 10 days
    after exposure.

Dealing with Legionnaires’
How can Legionnaires' Disease be prevented? With impending
danger of Legionnaires’ you should consider filtering your water.

  • If you don't smoke, don't have a chronic lung disease or
    chronic illness such asthma and emphysema), and don't have
    a weak immune system, you have less to worry about. You
    mostly just need to skip the hot tubs to live happily ever

  • If you're a plumber over 50, and have all those conditions
    listed above, then maybe you should take a break during the
    outbreak to avoid exposure.

Prevention of Legionnaires’ Disease:
What can preppers  do to avoid Legionnaires' Disease? Here's a
simple list:

  • Avoid hot tubs. Legionella bacteria grow in areas of warm
    water, which is perhaps the top reason to avoid hot tubs
    during an outbreak, particularly with public hot tubs. Another
    reason to avoid hot tubs is that you can contract
    Legionnaires’ by breathing in the vapors (aerosolized water,
    such as steam, mist and moisture), its advisable to avoid
    hot tubs during an outbreak.

  • Avoid public places that use air conditioning, including
    hotels, apartment buildings and offices, which are not
    required to test for it.

  • Hospital, hotel and prison water heaters. The presence of
    legionellae in water heaters is well documented.

  • Hospital, hotel and prison water holding tanks. The
    presence of legionellae in holding tanks is also well

  • Hospital air compressor systems -- because it's not
    uncommon to have excess water  at times in compressed air

Legionnaires Disease an epidemic, not a pandemic. An epidemic
is the rapid spread of a localized disease; while a
pandemic has
world-wide proportions.

Happy endings...
While Legionnaires' Disease is cause for concern in that there is a
5-30% case mortality rate, the good and happy news is that it's
treatable with antibiotics, and during treatment patients do not
require quarantine. Thankfully, most people who get Leginonaires
Disease will recover.

Another good thing is that Legionnaires' Disease doesn't transmit
person to person!

Related articles...

Did you know... Many water filtration products do not protect
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make questionable water bacteriaiologically suitable to drink.

Pictured right, Lifestraw removes minimum 99.9% of waterborne
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