Legionella is a type of bacteria that can be found in natural bodies of water such as lakes and rivers, but can also grow in man-made systems such as cooling towers and water heaters.
Although Legionella does not usually cause problems, under certain conditions it can lead to serious infections, especially in people with weakened immune systems. In this article we will provide you with all the important information about legionella and its importance for health.
Legionella – water bacteria with dangerous consequences
Legionella are water bacteria that can become dangerous to humans if inhaled into the lungs. The infection caused by Legionella is called Legionnaires’ disease and can cause a severe form of pneumonia that can be fatal in some cases.
Another illness caused by Legionella infection is Pontiac fever, which causes a flu-like illness that usually resolves on its own within a few days. Although the risk of infection with Legionella is relatively low, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers.
Ways of infection
Legionella infection usually occurs through inhalation of water droplets containing the bacteria. These droplets can be dispersed in the air in shower areas or by fog machines. When inhaled, the bacteria enter the lungs and can cause infection.
Legionella can also enter the body through contact with contaminated drinking water or swallowing water, but this does not usually lead to Legionella infection. Although Legionella is relatively common in water sources, it is not usually present in high concentrations, so the risk of infection is relatively low. However, it is never wrong to take precautions to minimize the risk of infection.
Infection with legionella can lead to legionellosis, which can cause various diseases. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to serious pneumonia. The most common symptoms of legionellosis are fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, and chills.
In more severe cases, the infection can lead to severe pneumonia (Legionella pneumophila), which can cause breathing problems and impaired lung function. People with weakened immune systems, the elderly, and smokers have a higher risk of developing severe illnesses associated with Legionella. If you have symptoms of legionellosis, you should see a doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The incubation period – the time from infection to the appearance of the first symptoms – usually varies between two and ten days. In some cases, however, it may take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear. The course of the disease depends on several factors, including the type of pathogen and the condition of the affected person.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help minimize the effects of the infection and speed recovery. If you are concerned about a possible Legionella infection or have symptoms suggestive of Legionellosis, you should seek medical attention immediately .
Diagnosis and therapy
Diagnosis of legionellosis usually requires special testing because symptoms may resemble those of other conditions. It is important to diagnose and treat Legionella infection as early as possible to avoid serious consequences.
To prevent infection, appropriate measures should be taken to minimize exposure to Legionella. This includes maintaining air conditioning and water systems, as well as adhering to hygiene measures such as regularly cleaning shower heads and faucets.
The different types of diagnostics
If Legionella infection is suspected, a physician should be contacted immediately to perform the necessary tests. Detection of Legionella in the patient’s blood, urine, or sputum is an important step in diagnosis. Special tests are used to reliably identify the pathogens. Rapid and correct diagnosis is critical to initiate adequate treatment and prevent the spread of infection.
The forms of therapy
Depending on the severity of the illness and the type of pathogen, Legionella infection can cause various diseases – including the so-called Legionnaires’ disease, which is accompanied by high fever, coughing and breathing problems.
Therapy usually consists of antibiotics, which may be administered depending on the type of pathogen and severity of the disease. Individuals with severe symptoms may require hospitalization for close monitoring and recovery support.
FAQ: What are legionella?
We have answered the most frequently asked questions on the subject for you.
What happens if you have legionella?
If you have Legionella, you can develop severe pneumonia, which in rare cases can be fatal. Legionella is notifiable in Germany and is monitored by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) to detect outbreaks early and take measures to contain the infection. The cause of infection with Legionella is usually contact with infected water, for example in showers, whirlpools or through air conditioning systems.
How dangerous are legionella bacteria really?
The pathogens can cause Legionnaires’ disease in humans, including severe pneumonia, which in rare cases can be life-threatening. Although infections are relatively rare, they can cause serious illness and even death in certain at-risk groups with weakened immune systems.
Where do you get legionella from?
Inhalation of water droplets or fine spray contaminated with Legionella can lead to infection. Therefore, it is important to regularly clean and maintain water lines and take precautions when using hot tubs or other water equipment.
Is it possible to drink water despite legionella?
In general, drinking water contaminated with Legionella is safe because in most cases the bacteria are not absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. However, it is important to note that Legionella in drinking water can be an indication of possible contamination of the entire water system. Therefore, in this case, the water should be boiled or purified by other means as a precaution to avoid risk.
Conclusion: Legionella – bacteria that should be avoided
Legionella are very dangerous bacteria that can cause severe illness. Legionella infection can be avoided by regularly maintaining and cleaning water lines and taking precautions when using water systems. Especially in public facilities such as hotels or hospitals, it is important to watch out for legionella infestation and to take appropriate measures in case of suspicion. A temperature of at least 60 degrees Celsius when showering or bathing can reduce the risk of infection.