Legionnaires disease is generally contracted by those with weak immune systems. While legionnaires disease is found in young children, and those with a strong health condition, it is those that are weak, either from age, or other illness that contract the disease.
The statement that the best way not to get sick is to stay out of the hospital is one that resonates with recent outbreaks of legionnaires. The current cases of the VA in Pennsylvania and the New Jersey VA are all examples of the high potential for exposure in the hospital setting.
Nursing Home Outbreaks
The same risk factors are also found in nursing home settings. A recent Legionnaires outbreak at a nursing home in Winston-Salem North Carolina shows how patients in nursing care facilities can also be the victim of careless treatment and monitoring of a water supply.
The nursing home example is a more problematic scenario given the fact that the patients many times cannot provide specific complaints of their condition. Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other geriatric conditions limit a physicians ability to diagnose the symptoms as legionnaires disease. In most nursing facilities the staff should maintain constant attention to their patients, but it is usually the family members, who know the patients best that also should be aware of the symptoms of legionnaires disease and the risk factors present in a nursing facility.
The common cold symptom of an elderly patient if not diagnosed, could be a life threatening outbreak of legionnaires disease that should be attended to quickly. The symptoms of Legionnaires disease include high fever, chills, coughs, muscle pain, and headaches, as described by the CDC, and should be a constant checklist for family members that care for their elderly loved ones.