FAQ about Legionella

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What is Legionellosis?

Legionellosis comes in two forms: Legionnaires' Disease (LEE-juh-nares), which is a type of pneumonia (lung infection) and a milder infection without pneumonia (Pontiac fever). Legionella bacteria cause Legionellosis.

What are the symptoms of Legionellosis?

Symptoms of Legionellosis include high fever, shortness of breath, cough, muscle aches and headaches. These symptoms usually begin two to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria. The symptoms of Pontiac fever usually last for two to five days and may also include fever, headaches and muscle aches; however, there is no pneumonia. Symptoms go away on their own without treatment and without causing further problems.

Is the water at Florida Hospital Orlando safe to drink?

Yes, a nationally recognized water management firm and their experts have assured us the water at Florida Hospital Orlando is safe to drink.

How is Florida Hospital addressing Legionellosis bacteria in the water?

We immediately hired a nationally recognized water management firm to conduct a thorough assessment, and also implement a comprehensive Water Management Program. These recommendations are consistent with the 2015 national best practices of the scientific community. Under the guidance of our experts, we have begun flushing the Florida Hospital Orlando water system.

Where does Legionella bacteria come from?

The Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. The bacteria grows best in warm water, like hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, or decorative fountains.

How do people get Legionellosis?

People get Legionellosis when they breathe in small droplets of water in air that has been contaminated with the bacteria. The bacteria does not spread from person to person.

Who is at risk for Legionellosis?

People most at risk of getting sick from the bacteria are people who are current or former smokers, or those who have a chronic lung disease. People who have weakened immune systems from diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure and those who take drugs to weaken the immune system (like after a transplant operation or chemotherapy) are also at higher risk.

How serious is the disease and how is it treated?

Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics and healthy people usually recover from infection. However, Legionellosis can be very serious and can cause death in up to five to 30 percent of cases.

What should I do if I think I was exposed to Legionella bacteria?

Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill. However, if you believe you were exposed to the bacteria, talk to your doctor or local health department. Be sure to mention if you have traveled in the previous two weeks. Further information on legionellosis can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage, http://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html.

How did we learn about the legionella bacteria at Florida Hospital Orlando?

In late November, Florida Hospital learned a critically ill patient at Florida Hospital Orlando tested positive for Legionella bacteria.

Immediately upon receiving the patients positive test result, Florida Hospital notified the Department of Health. As part of their protocol, health department officials performed an environmental water assessment at the Orlando campus. On Jan. 13, the Department of Health notified Florida Hospital that a preliminary result was positive for Legionella.

Test results do not show a match between the strain samples taken from the patient and the environmental testing at Florida Hospital Orlando.

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