Global & Disaster Medicine

CDC: The number of people with Legionnaires’ disease grew by nearly 4 times from 2000–2014.


Legionnaires’ disease is deadly for about 10% of people who get it.

9 in 10. CDC investigations show almost all outbreaks were caused by problems preventable with more effective water management.

CDC investigated the first outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a serious lung infection (pneumonia), in 1976. An increasing number of people in the US are getting this disease, which is caused by breathing in small water droplets contaminated with Legionella germs. About 5,000 people are diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and there are at least 20 outbreaks reported each year. Most identified outbreaks are in buildings with large water systems, such as hotels, long-term care facilities, and hospitals. Legionella grows best in building water systems that are not well maintained. Building owners and managers should adopt newly published standards that promote Legionella water management programs, which are ways to reduce the risk of this germ in building water systems.

 Graphic: Legionnaires disease is on the rise

 Graphic: Legionella can grow and spread in many parts of a building


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