Legionnaires’ disease (also legionellosis or Legion fever) is a form of atypical pneumonia caused by any species of Gram-negative aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Over 90% of cases of Legionnaires’ disease are caused by Legionella pneumophila.
Legionella is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne diseases (drinking water and recreational water) among humans in the United States.
Certain groups of people are more likely to become seriously ill when infected with Legionella:
- Individuals who are 50 years of age or older
- People with chronic lung disease
- Individuals with weakened immune systems
Legionella is not spread from one person to another.
Legionella is naturally found in water, especially warm water. Hot tubs that are not cleaned and disinfected enough can become contaminated with Legionella. A person can get infected withLegionella when they breathe in steam or mist from a contaminated hot tub.
Legionella can also be found in cooling towers, plumbing systems, and decorative pools or fountains. Because high water temperatures make it hard to maintain the disinfectant levels needed to kill germs like Legionella, making sure that the hot tub has the right disinfectant and pH levels is essential.
Symptoms include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to the bacteria.
This information was courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/rwi/illnesses/legionella.html#how_protect