Because Legionnaires’ Disease is the most common result of a Legionella bacteria infection, legionellosis is often used as a synonym for Legionnaires’ Disease, when there are actually multiple other diseases that can result from a Legionella bacteria infection. A legionellosis can indeed refer to Legionnaires’ Disease, but it also includes Pontiac fever and Pittsburgh pneumonia.
Legionnaires’ Disease is the most well-known under the legionellosis umbrella, as it is the most common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 10,000 cases occur per year, but that because the illness is often underdiagnosed, the true rate of occurrence might be 1.8 to 2.7 times greater than the 10,000 figure. Legionnaires’ Disease is a type of pneumonia and is very similar to other types of pneumonia, manifesting with respiratory symptoms of a cough and shortness of breath, along with other ailments, such as a fever, muscle aches, or headaches.
Pontiac Fever occurs slightly less frequently than Legionnaires’ Disease and is fundamentally different in the fact that it is not pneumonia. Some symptoms overlap with those of Legionnaires’ Disease, such as a fever and muscle aches, but the respiratory symptoms are not present in Pontiac Fever, making it much more mild on the host. The incubation period is typically one to three days, and because it is significantly more mild, there have been no fatalities reported from the conception of Pontiac Fever alone.
“Pittsburgh Pneumonia” is an offshoot of Legionnaires’ Disease with overall similar manifestations. It was first identified in 1979 by Pasculle et al. and is caused by a slightly different bacteria; while the Legionella bacteria common in Legionnaires’ Disease is L. pneumophilia, the bacteria in Pittsburgh Pneumonia is L. pittsburgensis. Pittsburgh Pneumonia often develops in individuals with pre-existing immunocompromised states, but the treatment is similar to the treatment of Legionnaires’ Disease. L. pittsburgensis infections are significantly less common and are underrepresented in scientific research on legionellosis.
How Can All Legionellosis Infections be Prevented?
Because Legionnaires’ Disease, Pittsburgh Pneumonia, and Pontiac Fever mostly spread through contact with contaminated water, instead of through human-to-human contact, the normal practices for avoiding communicable diseases, such as frequent hand-washing, mask-wearing, and cough-covering, don’t necessarily suffice. It’s important to ensure that larger structures, such as building cooling towers, hospital water systems, and even hotel hot tubs, are properly disinfected to prevent the growth and spread of all variants of Legionella bacteria. One scientifically proven way of eliminating the Legionella growth that can lead to the spread of legionellosis is through the use of chlorine dioxide treatment. Chlorine dioxide is an oxidizing biocide that doesn’t provide THM’s or HAA5’s, and it’s been proven effective in eliminating Legionella bacteria at its source, preventing its spread from infected water sources to humans. By breaking down the bacteria at its source, the Legionella cannot spread and eventually turn into one of the subsets of legionellosis discussed above. PureLine is home to world-class chlorine dioxide experts with significant experience in treating Legionella outbreaks when it matters most. To learn how your water systems, cooling towers, or other potential hosts of Legionella bacteria can be treated with chlorine dioxide to prevent the conception of Legionnaires’ Disease, Pontiac Fever, or Pittsburgh Pneumonia, fill out the form below and a PureLine representative will promptly be in touch.