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One condition that may result in the patient requiring home healthcare services is that of Legionnaires’ disease. Not only can this disease lead to short-complications, ranging from headache to a cough and more, but it can also cause long-term complications, such as septic shock and kidney failure. Consider the following about this serious disease, and remember that home healthcare services may be available through your EEOICPA and RECA benefits.

What Is Legionnaires’ Disease?

According to the Mayo Clinic (2018), Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia. However, unlike the type of pneumonia that is caused by a contagious bacterial or viral infection that can be passed to person-to-person, Legionnaires’ disease cannot be caught from person-to-person contact.

Instead, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease is called legionella, and this bacteria type can only be contracted if the bacteria is inhaled. 

In addition to Legionnaires’ disease, the legionella bacteria can also cause another complication: Pontiac fever. Sometimes, people will contract both diseases in conjunction with one another, a condition called legionellosis. 

According to the CDC (2019), Legionnaires’ disease is not very common. In a single year reported in the United States, only about 6,100 cases of the conditioner were reported. However, the condition is serious – about one in 10 persons affected with Legionnaires’ disease will die. 

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can at first mirror those of many other conditions, including the common flu, making the disease hard to diagnosis. Within one-two days of exposure to the bacteria, a headache, muscle pain, and chills may set in. Then, a high fever will likely develop – up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. By the second or third day, the symptoms are both more distinct and acute and might include a cough, which might bring up blood, shortness of breath and trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even mental changes, such as confusion. 

Treatment for Legionnaires’ Disease

Legionnaires’ disease can be very serious – about 10 percent of cases are fatal. If you experience the above symptoms, you should immediately seek healthcare for diagnosis and treatment. After you are diagnosed with the condition, which might include blood tests and x-rays, then you will begin antibiotic treatment. 

Who’s Most at Risk for Legionnaires’ Disease?

While Legionnaires’ disease can affect anyone who is exposed to legionella bacteria, some people are more at risk than others. Those who may be at an increased risk of contracting Legionnaires’ or Pontiac disease following exposure include:

  • Those over age 50;
  • Smokers;
  • Those with a chronic lung disease; and
  • Those with compromised immune systems. 

Infection occurs when a person inhales microscopic water droplets that contain legionella. While cases are rare, places where legionella bacteria are often found include hot tubs, grocery stores, air conditioning systems’ cooling towers, fountains, swimming pools, public water systems (hotels, gyms), and even on physical therapy equipment. The best way that a legionella outbreak can be prevented is through thorough cleaning and disinfection of water systems of various types. In fact, the CDC (2019) reports that, following investigation, it was determined that nine of 10 outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease (an outbreak is defined as two or more people contracting Legionnaires’ or Pontiac disease following exposure in the same place at the same time) were caused by preventable problems involving ineffective water management. 

The Mayo Clinic, cited above, states that one of the best things that a person can do personally to reduce their risk of contracting the bacteria and developing Legionnaires’ disease is to stop smoking. 

You May Qualify for Home Healthcare

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious condition that can result in hospitalization, respiratory complications, septic shock, and acute kidney failure – all conditions that require intensive care. If you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, you may be eligible for free home healthcare from United Energy Workers Healthcare via your EEOICPA/RECA benefits. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we offer our clients a wide range of healthcare services, including home healthcare. If you have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and need competent, friendly, and reliable home healthcare services from a licensed, registered nurse, we want to help. The Department of Labor pays for this care for medical conditions covered under the EEOICPA/RECA program. To learn more about our services and our covered conditions, please reach out to us directly by phone, by visiting one of our locations in person, or by sending us a message using the contact form on our website. 

 

Sources: 

Mayo Clinic. (2018, January 11). Legionnaires’ disease. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/legionnaires-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20351747

CDC. (2019, February 25). Fast Facts. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/fastfacts.html

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