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Legionnaire’s Disease: A Potentially Fatal Form Of Pneumonia

A 2013 outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in a Brisbane hospital caused a sense of panic.

A 60 year old cancer patient died and a women went into intensive care after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease suspected to have originated in hot water taps in the Wesley Private Hospital.

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious and sometimes fatal form of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella.

Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment and thrive in warm water and warm damp places. They are commonly found in lakes, rivers, streams, soil and mud.

The bacteria organism multiplies at temperatures ranging from 20-45ºC, with maximum growth occurring at between 32-43ºC. They can survive freezing and are killed with increasing rapidity as temperatures exceed 45ºC.

The disease is not contagious and is not known to spread directly from person to person, nor can it be contracted through drinking water.

It is contracted by breathing in dust or small droplets contaminated with the bacteria.

Legionella from natural sources can enter and colonise manufactured water systems such as cooling water systems, hot water and warm water supply services, spa pools, spa baths, hydrotherapy pools, air-houses, humidifiers, nebulisers and decorative fountains.

Water should be kept either cooled below 20C or above 60C to prevent outbreaks.

The disease predominantly affects people with already weakened immune system, older people, pregnant women, smokers, or people with chronic lung conditions.


What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms are usually similar to a severe ‘flu’ infection and include fever, headache (often severe), shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, tiredness, cough, loss of appetite and diarrhoea.

The time between the patient’s exposure to the bacteria and becoming sick is 2-10 days.

If left untreated, the disease can progress to Legionnaires’ disease, and require hospitalisation. In severe cases, death has resulted from contracting this disease.

It is difficult to distinguish Legionnaires disease from other types of pneumonia or the flu by symptoms alone.

Chest X-rays help diagnose pneumonia but the diagnosis of Legionnaires disease requires special tests.

Tests of blood samples, sputum and urine help for confirming the diagnosis.

Doctors will prescribe antibiotics to treat Legionnaires disease.


How To Reduce Your Risk of Legionnaire’s Disease:

  • Make sure spas, pools and air-conditioning systems are properly filtered and maintained
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid public pools, whirlpools and spas, especially if your immune system is already weak
  • Wear gloves and mask when handling garden soil and potting mixes


Boost your immune system to ensure resistance to infection

  • Stay away from sugar and processed carbohydrates
  • Reduce stress as much as possible
  • Ensure adequate rest and good quality sleep. Prolonged sleep deprivation wears down immune protection while getting adequate rest each night helps to boost your defenses
  • Maintain regular exercise routine
  • Start taking Vitamin C to boost your immunity
  • Have the Emed Mineral Status Profile done to ensure you have optimal levels of zinc and selenium to support healthy immune system
  • Balance your gut flora by taking a good quality probiotic. Bioceuticals UltraBiotic 45 will ensure healthy gut flora and support your immunity
  • Vitamin D is essential in preventing infections and healthy immunity. Have your Vitamin D levels tested to ensure your levels are in the optimal range
  • Mince 4-5 gloves of garlic, 1/2 onion, and 5g of ginger. Add 2 tsp. of honey and 1 lemon juice. Blend well and take 30 minutes before meal.


Further Reading:


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