What is Legionnaires' disease?

Legionnaires' Disease Death Toll in New York Rises to 7

With the death toll continuing to rise in New York City from Legionnaires' disease, people are freaking out. And while there is a lot of speculation and information out there, we wanted to break it down simply for you.

What is it?
According to the Mayo Clinic, "Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia — lung inflammation usually caused by infection."

How do you get it?
You can contract Legionnaire's disease by inhaling the bacteria (legionella), but NOT from person to person contact. Because it is a disease that affects the lungs, older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable.

​What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of the disease usually show up within two to 10 days of bacteria inhalation, and include headache, muscle pain, chills, and a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, you may start to cough up mucus and/or blood, have shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal issues, like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and changes to your mental state, like confusion.

Where is the bacteria found?
The legionella bacteria responsible for the disease lives and multiplies in water areas like hot tubs, air conditioners, mist sprayers in grocery store produce departments, and water systems.

The bacteria was discovered on Friday, July 31 at a hotel in the Bronx borough of New York City.

What is the treatment?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the disease can treated with antibiotics. Problems arise when the disease is left untreated. With this being said, if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and live in the New York City area, you should see your doctor.

Stay informed and stay safe!

Want to learn more about Legionnaires' disease and its history? Click here:
History of Legionnaires outbreaks
See Gallery
What is Legionnaires' disease?
Colorized photo of the legionella bacteria under microscope. 
Following steps played by Rouge Valley Centenary Hospital in recent legionnaires disease at Seven Oaks Home for the Aged. (Photo by Ron Bull/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
DROCOURT, FRANCE: Doctor Ramin Roboubi, chief of the Pneumology service at the Henin-Beaumont poly-clinic, looks at the x-ray of a patient suffering from Legionnaires' disease 31 December 2003. Twenty patients out of the 50 registered have been treated in this clinic. Ten are still hospitalized. (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN)
Illustrated postcard shows the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early 1900s. In 1976, the hotel was the site of the first outbreak of the previously unknown and deadly Legionnaires' disease. (Photo by Vintage Images/Getty Images)

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