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Review
, 387 (10016), 376-385

Legionnaires' Disease

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Review

Legionnaires' Disease

Burke A Cunha et al. Lancet.

Abstract

Since first identified in early 1977, bacteria of the genus Legionella are recognised as a common cause of community-acquired pneumonia and a rare cause of hospital-acquired pneumonia. Legionella bacteria multisystem manifestations mainly affect susceptible patients as a result of age, underlying debilitating conditions, or immunosuppression. Water is the major natural reservoir for Legionella, and the pathogen is found in many different natural and artificial aquatic environments such as cooling towers or water systems in buildings, including hospitals. The term given to the severe pneumonia and systemic infection caused by Legionella bacteria is Legionnaires' disease. Over time, the prevalence of legionellosis or Legionnaires' disease has risen, which might indicate a greater awareness and reporting of the disease. Advances in microbiology have led to a better understanding of the ecological niches and pathogenesis of the condition. Legionnaires' disease is not always suspected because of its non-specific symptoms, and the diagnostic tests routinely available do not offer the desired sensitivity. However, effective antibiotics are available. Disease notification systems provide the basis for initiating investigations and limiting the scale and recurrence of outbreaks. This report reviews our current understanding of this disease.

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