Legionella, how the legionnaires' bacterium is discovered and treated

Legionella, how the legionnaires' bacterium is discovered and treated

What are the symptoms of legionella, how it is transmitted and the tests to identify it

It appears almost suddenly, through small epidemics that repeat and are then controlled. This is how Legionella infection occurs, a bacterium that tends to develop inside the lungs, concentrating in specific areas. Some time after what happened in Brescia, now there is talk of legionellosis in Abruzzo. But what are the characteristics of the painting? Here is a simple handbook that can help you understand how to behave.

It all started in a hotel

At first they called it "legionnaires' disease". There is a historical reason that explains this first definition and also, then, the name of the germ itself, of which over 60 different species have been identified, one of which, the most dangerous and fearsome variant, comes into play in most cases.

The name of the bacterium from the epidemic that in the summer of 1976 struck a group of veteran American legionaries gathered in a hotel in Philadelphia: 34 dead out of 221 infected. The germ was isolated in the air conditioning system. In any case, more than forty years after that first identification, legionellosis must be considered an infection of the respiratory tract caused by a particular germ called legionella, to which the suffix "pneumophila" is added precisely due to its tendency to develop in the lungs.

Generally, in its many variants, the bacterium is found mainly in rivers and lakes, when the temperature is not particularly low. The situation changes when, on the other hand, the germ reproduces in large quantities inside pipes or routes through which conditioned air is spread inside the rooms. In fact, in these conditions the germ replicates at great speed, forming a kind of invisible "film" along the water cooling columns and other piping systems, especially if rust residues are present.

In these cases it can also be transferred by simple "nebulization", for example when taking a shower, inside the human being. And problems can begin, more frightening for the more fragile people and smokers since those who often light cigarettes could have a reduction in the filtering activity of the air that is inhaled by the bronchi, real "cleaning devices Which help eliminate what enters the respiratory tract and is not healthy for the body.

How it manifests and treats

In this period of Covid-19, care must be taken not to confuse the symptoms related to the viral pathology with those of legionellosis, which however can be hypothesized given its tendency to occur in certain very specific areas precisely due to the mode of transmission through the pipelines.

In general terms, the symptoms of legionellosis normally resemble those of a common bronchopneumonia and occur in a time that can range from two to ten days from the moment of the infection. The affected person accuses fever and a strong cough, which can be dry and then induce the production of mucus. In some cases these discomfort can be associated with parainfluenza symptoms, such as headache, muscle pain and possibly impaired functioning of the kidneys.

Legionellosis usually manifests itself with fever, chills, dry or fat cough. In some cases it can also cause muscle pain, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and, occasionally, diarrhea. Since the symptoms are quite general, the suspicion of the disease can only be confirmed by a blood and bronchial secretion test.

In the first case, through a simple sample, the aim is to identify the specific antibodies produced by the body in the blood circulating in the body, in the second the aim is to find the germ inside what is emitted with a spit. It may also be useful to search for antigens, typical of the bacterium, which can be discovered in the urine. In terms of therapies, the infection is basically treated with antibiotics active on the germ, which in many cases prove to be extremely effective, so much so that the situation is resolved without leaving any results.

But be careful: people who have a lower defensive response than normal are at particular risk, which can happen for example in those who struggle with cancer or suffer from renal failure or diabetes that is not well controlled.

Category: Health
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