What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease (LEE-juh-nares) is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. This bacterium got its name in 1976, when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion suffered from an outbreak of this disease, a type of pneumonia (lung infection). Although this type of bacteria was around before 1976, more Legionnaires’ disease illness is being detected, due to the fact that we are now looking for this disease whenever a patient presents with a case of pneumonia.
Each year, between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires' disease in the U.S. However, many infections are not diagnosed or reported, so this number may be higher. More illness is usually found in the summer and early fall, but it can happen any time of year.