Legionnaires Disease | FAQ


Who is at risk of contracting Legionnaires disease?

The risk of infection is based on two key factors: the number of Legionella organisms reaching the body and the resistance of the individual.

Young and healthy nonsmokers have contracted Legionnaires’ disease but persons who are immunocompromised either because of illness (e.g., cancer) or medical treatment (e.g., chemotherapy) are at a much higher risk. Organ transplant recipients, for example, have a 200-fold increased risk. Smokers, persons over 65 years of age, and heavy drinkers have a moderately higher risk.

Children have contracted Legionnaires’ disease. Most cases have occurred in immunosuppressed children, but a number of immunocompetent children, particularly newborns, have acquired the disease, most often after surgeries, in birthing tubs, or through the use of Legionella-contaminated ventilators.

Although more cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in some areas than others, one cannot assume they are at low risk based on geographic location. In most areas of the United States, Legionella contamination is determined more by the maintenance and operation of a building’s water systems than by the public water supply.

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