Doctor's Notes on Legionnaires' Disease and Pontiac Fever (Legionellosis)
Legionnaires' disease is a serious illness caused by Legionella bacteria that can result in fatal cases of pneumonia. Pontiac fever is a self-limited, flu-like illness, also caused by Legionella bacteria. Legionellosis refers to the two illnesses caused by the bacteria of the genus Legionella (Legionnaires' disease and Pontiac fever).
Early symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include:
- muscle pains,
- fever, and
After a day or two, symptoms worsen and may include:
- cough and shortness of breath (which worsens as the pneumonia progresses),
- gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea),
- chest pain, and
- body aches.
In severe cases or if the disease is not treated Legionnaires' disease can progress to:
- respiratory failure,
- renal failure, and
Symptoms of Pontiac fever begin within 2-3 days of exposure, are much milder than Legionnaires' disease, and include fever, chills, and muscle aches. Symptoms usually resolve within a week with no long-term effects.
What Is the Treatment for Legionnaires' Disease and Pontiac Fever?
Legionella bacteria infections may be effectively treated with different classes of antibiotics, which can eradicate the infection. The earlier treatment is started, the lower the risk of serious illness or complications. Depending on the severity, Legionnaires’ disease may require treatment in a hospital with supportive measures such as:
- medications to control nausea and vomiting, or
- medications to manage pain and fever.
Pontiac fever resolves on its own, and no specific treatment is required.
Stomach Pain : Nausea & Other Causes QuizQuestion
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.