What is Legionellosis?
Legionnaires’ disease first garnered public attention in 1976. After attending an American Legion convention at a Philadelphia hotel, 221 people became ill, with 34 dying of a mysterious illness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a major investigation, and in 1977 identified the responsible bacterium, naming it Legionella.
Infections caused by Legionella are called Legionellosis and have mild to severe effects. Two diseases caused by Legionella are Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac Fever. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal pneumonia, whereas Pontiac Fever is more like a mild flu. While the disease and its cause are well known, the CDC reports that cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States have grown by nearly 450 percent since 2000. This may be partly due to more infections, but also to aging population, increased awareness and testing, and other factors.