Legionellosis – Italy

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Two schoolchildren in a school in South Tyrol have been infected with Legionnaire’s disease.

Legionnaire’s disease is caused by bacteria found in bodies of water. Both showers and AC are suspected sources of the contamination and have been shut off. Severe forms of pneumonia indicate an infection.

Both schoolchildren have been treated and no other infections are reported

Photo: Electron micrograph of L. pneumophila, responsible for over 90% of Legionnaire disease cases.

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of atypical pneumonia caused by any species of Legionella bacteria. Signs and symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pains, and headaches. The symptoms often begins 2–10 days after exposure.

The bacterium is found naturally in fresh water. It can contaminate hot water tanks, hot tubs, and cooling towers of large air conditioners. It is usually spread by breathing in mist that contains the bacteria.

It typically does not spread directly between people, and most people who are exposed do not become infected.

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