Legionnnaires' Disease Facts and Myths

The myths and facts about Legionnaires’ Disease

Myth – You catch it from air conditioning.

Fact – Legionnaires’ Disease is a rare type of pneumonia contracted through inhaling droplets of water infected with the legionella bacteria. Air conditioning is very unlikely to be the source or the cause but some air handling systems can move contaminated air around a building, thereby increasing exposure.

Myth – It is a common disease and I am at risk.

Fact - Legionnaires’ Disease is rare and even when exposed to the bacteria only a small percentage of the normal population will contract the disease. i.e. around 2-5%

Myth –Those most at risk are the young and elderly.

The facts - Legionnaires’ disease is rare in those aged under 20. It is predominantly caught by those aged over 50, anyone with a weak immune system or compromised lungs e.g. smokers, alcoholics or hospital patients who are already quite poorly.

Myths – It can be caught by sneezing.

Fact – No, it is not contagious so it cannot be passed from person to person.

Myth – It is a big killer and scary.

Fact – No, thankfully it is not a big killer and can easily be treated successfully in the majority of cases if diagnosed early. Effective antibiotics for chest infections are prescribed and sufferers can usually fully recover. It becomes harder to treat if left undiagnosed.

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