Pinellas Investigating Possible Legionnaires' Disease

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Clearwater, Fla.-(Newsradio 970 WFLA)-The Pinellas County Health Department is investigating two possible cases of the Legionnaires' disease.  Both are in the same apartment community, but the department will not release any information as to location.

The Florida Department of Health says Legionellosis is a disease caused by a bacterium called Legionella, which is naturally found in the environment, usually in water. The bacteria grow best in warm water and can thrive in hot tubs, detachable shower nozzles, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, or parts of the air-conditioning systems of large buildings.

People can become ill when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) contaminated with Legionella. The disease is not spread by contact with an infected person.

Legionellosis can present in one of the following ways: as Legionnaires' disease or as Pontiac fever. Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease usually begin two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria and can consist of a high fever, chills, cough and pneumonia. In severe cases, it can be fatal. Pontiac fever is a milder illness and may not cause pneumonia.

Graphic courtesy Pinellas County Health Dept.

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