What a coincidence! I am sitting in the Philadelphia Airport and pick up a local paper. The first article of interest I come to is one warning the readers that the incidence of Legionnaire’s disease is on the rise. 7500 people were reported to have come down with this disease in 2017 which is a 5 fold increase from 2000 with, no doubt, many patients treated without any reporting. This disease was named for an outbreak at a Philadelphia hotel during an American Legion convention in 1976.
The sickest tend to be over 50 years of age, have medical conditions such as COPD or diabetes, or have a history of cigarette smoking. Recent epidemics have occurred in New York, Wisconsin, and Illinois. The death rate is about 1 in 10.
Legionnaire’s disease can be cured with antibiotics, but doctors must recognize the potential for the disease in any given patient and order the appropriate diagnostic tests. The most common form of Legionnaires’ can be diagnosed with a simple urine test.
The most effective way to prevent this disease is to reduce exposure to the bacteria causing it. Prevention usually means inspecting water systems used in the cooling towers of larger buildings, which include nursing homes and long term care facilities along with hospitals, hotels, and large apartment buildings or condominiums. The bacteria have also been found in the water reservoirs of CPAP machines which are commonly used in our homes. Clean your machine regularly.