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Legionnaire’s Disease

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By Matt Vera BSN, R.N.


Legionnaire’s Disease is an acute bronchopneumonia produced by gram-negative bacillus, Legionella pneumophila. It derives its name and notoriety from the peculiar and highly publicized disease that struck 182 (29 of whom died) at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia in July 1976.


It is caused by Legionella pneumophilla, which is an aerobic, gram-negative bacillus which flourishes on soils and transmitted airborne through cooling towers and air-conditioning systems.

Risk Factors

The following people are at risk:

Incubation Period

It has an incubation period around 2 to 10 days.


Diagnostic Findings

  • White Blood Count would show leukocytosis
  • Chest Xray would show consolidations
  • Auscultation would show fine crackles
  • Definitive tests include direct immunofluorescence of respiratory tract secretions and tissue, culture of L. pneumophilia, and indirect fluorescent antibody testing of serum comparing acute samples with convalescent samples drawn at least 3 weeks later. A convalescent serum showing a fourfold or greater rise in antibody titer for Legionella confirms the diagnosis.


Nursing Care Plans

Main Article: 5 Pneumonia Nursing Care Plans

Nursing Management

  • Closely monitor the patient’s respiratory status
  • Continually monitor the patient’s vital signs
  • Replace fluid and electrolytes
  • Provide mechanical ventilation and other respiratory therapy
  • Give antibiotic therapy as indicated
Matt Vera, a registered nurse since 2009, leverages his experiences as a former student struggling with complex nursing topics to help aspiring nurses as a full-time writer and editor for Nurseslabs, simplifying the learning process, breaking down complicated subjects, and finding innovative ways to assist students in reaching their full potential as future healthcare providers.

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