The bacterium responsible for Legionnaires’ disease belongs to the genus Legionella. There are approximately 35 Legionella species known to produce the disease. Legionella species are commonly found in any aquatic environment. They can survive for several months in a wet environment and multiply in the presence of algae and organic matter.
Legionnaires’ disease can have symptoms like many other forms of pneumonia, so it can be hard to diagnose at first. Signs of Legionnaires’ disease can include:
- Shortness of breath
- High fever
- Muscle aches
These symptoms usually begin 2 to 10 days after being exposed to the bacteria, but people should watch for symptoms for about 2 weeks after exposure.
- Being 50 or older
- Having a chronic lung condition such as asthma or emphysema
- Smoking cigarettes
- Taking medications that suppress the immune system
- Having an immune-suppressing illness
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