In this overview you will find useful information about Legionella. This information is verified by the Castilla-La Mancha Ministry of Health and is aimed primarily at guiding citizens in the identification and prevention of this disease.

The Community of Madrid, through the National Epidemiological Surveillance Network, has published a surveillance protocol for legionellosis with extended information that you can easily consult.

At present, there are laboratories that use fast detection techniques for the determination of Legionella, capable of reducing the detection time to 1 hour.

What is legionellosis?

Legionellosis is a serious infectious disease caused by the Legionella bacteria. It occurs in the form of pneumonia, fever, and congestion. It was first identified in 1976 after studying a pneumonia outbreak in Philadelphia. Here you can consult the study of a legionella outbreak in Mataró. Depending on the source of infection, the disease can cause outbreaks of varying magnitude.

How is legionellosis spread?

For the disease to develop in people, the bacteria must enter by inhalation. It is dispersed in the form of aerosols. People can get Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever when they breathe in water droplets in the air that contain the bacteria. Another less common way that people can get sick is by drinking drinking water that contains Legionella. This happens when water gets into your lungs accidentally from drinking water.

What are the symptoms of legionellosis?

People with legionellosis often have symptoms such as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, loss of appetite, dry cough and fever… sometimes diarrhea and some confusion.

How is legionellosis prevented?

There are no vaccines that can prevent legionellosis. The key to preventing Legionnaires’ disease is making sure buildings keep water systems in good repair, to reduce the risk of Legionella multiplying and spreading.

What facilities should be treated against legionella?

Refrigeration installations, or any other system that uses water spray. Shopping centers with large air conditioning facilities, Turkish baths, spray terrace coolers, fire extinguishing systems, irrigation of parks and gardens, sprayers to improve the appearance of food such as fish, etc…

Legionella prevention

There are strict regulations for systems that spray water to be maintained in conditions that minimize the risk of disease and do not harbor the bacteria that cause legionellosis. These measures are based on avoiding stagnation of water, accumulation of nutrients and the temperature range in which the bacteria develop.

Is legionellosis curable?

There are specific antibiotics that are effective in treating the disease. Other treatments that are also effective and even complementary to others are:

  • Liquids, through a vein (fluid therapy).
  • Oxygen, which is given through a mask or respirator.

The transmission of legionellosis

Legionelosis is NOT spread from one person to another. The disease is transmitted from a system that sprays contaminated water. Through small drops of water (aerosols) that are involuntarily inhaled before they evaporate.

Legionella is not transmitted:

  • From person to person.
  • Not drinking water contaminated by the bacteria.

Where is legionella produced?

Mainly in the water. Bacteria are widely distributed in the environment since these bacteria have their habitat in rainwater, lakes and rivers.