Legionnaires’ Disease: Risks, Symptoms, and Diagnosis 

Diseases are common in everyone, but it is necessary to take good care and treatment for all diseases. Nowadays, you can find many diseases, each of them again classified into different types. Certain diseases are less risky, while others can be life-threatening. So it would be better to know the symptoms of certain serious diseases

Knowing more about certain diseases will help you take precautions and treatment quickly. Pneumonia is an infection that causes inflammation of air sacs in the lungs due to viruses in your lungs and airways. Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia that mainly affects the lungs and can cause serious troubles in other body parts. Here is some essential information about Legionnaires’ Disease, its risks, symptoms, and diagnosis methods. 

All about Legionnaires’ Disease 

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that is considered to be a severe case. It involves lung inflammation caused by infection due to legionella bacteria. The disease primarily affects the lungs but can sometimes cause wound infections in other body parts, like the heart. A mild condition of Legionnaires’ Disease, known as Pontiac fever, is found to cause fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. 

This disease is usually caused because of contaminated water. Hence if any of your family members is suffering from this disease, you can hire legionnaires’ disease lawyer who can do the required investigation to fight against the company or individual whose contaminated water leads to Legionnaires’ disease.

Risks of Legionnaires’ Disease 

Since Legionnaires’ Disease is a severe form of pneumonia, it can cause numerous complications in different ways. Untreated Legionnaires’ Disease is highly risky and can be life-threatening in certain cases. 

  • Respiratory failure caused because of Legionnaires’ Disease.
  • Kidney failure is caused because of the infection.
  • Septic shocks are caused because of organ failure or low blood pressure due to infection.
  • Multi-organ failure is also caused because of severe infections.
  • Long-term side effects like fatigue and lack of energy for several months even after recovering from Legionnaires’ Disease. 

Risk factors of Legionnaires’ Disease 

  • age (>=50)
  • smoking
  •  chronic lung disease
  •  immune system disorders
  • underlying diseases like diabetes 

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease 

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia, so symptoms are almost the same for both. The symptoms will appear after 2 to 14 days of exposure to legionella bacteria. You might face neurological and gastrointestinal symptoms during or after incubation. 

  • Fever (around or over 104 ⁰F/40⁰C)
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath – dyspnea
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood – hemoptysis
  • Stomach pain 

Diagnosis for Legionnaires’ Disease 

The commonly preferred diagnostic test for Legionnaires’ Disease is the sputum culture test of lower respiratory secretions and the legionella urinary antigen test. But it is also preferred to obtain both of these tests concurrently. During the test, the healthcare provider will also get pictures of your inside chest and perform a physical examination. 

Common tests 

Culture diagnosis method

The sputum culture diagnosis method involves the isolation of legionella on media that supports its growth for diagnosis. The isolation of legionella can come from lower respiratory secretions, lung tissue, etc. Culturing the specimens can help detect legionella species. The healthcare providers will compare clinical and environmental isolates using serologic and molecular techniques to identify their source – outbreak. 

Urinary Antigen test

Urinary antigen test is the most common diagnostic method for Legionnaires’ Disease. The test involves detecting molecules of Legionella bacteria in the urine. If the test is positive, the patient is considered to have Legionnaires’ Disease. But this test cannot confirm the disease, wherein there comes the need for a culture test. 

Other diagnosis tests 

  • Blood tests – It involves checking signs of legionella in your blood. 
  • Chest X-ray or CT scan – The healthcare provider will take pictures of your lungs to look for certain changes. 
  • Bronchoscopy – It involves checking the inside of your lungs using a thin, lighted tube. 
  • Thoracentesis – It is a treatment that involves testing fluids drained out of the lungs.


Only a healthcare professional can identify or confirm Legionnaires’ Disease, even if you know certain symptoms. Untreated Legionnaires’ Disease can lead to several risks, so it would be better to consult a doctor early once you feel any changes. Legionnaires’ disease is usually treated with antibiotics through your veins or pills. So make sure to consult a well-experienced healthcare provider for better treatment.