Dad tested positive for Legionnaires disease. How contagious is it?

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Dad has Pneumonia symptoms and the tests came back positive for Legionnaires. He's been at this facility for several months and we really like it. Mom shares the room with him since she broke her pelvis on Christmas day. They removed mom out of the room for one day, but she's back with him now. He was started on antibiotics and seems a little better. He has a feeding tube and a history of aspiration pneumonia. Is this common in Nursing Homes? Are the antibiotics effective? How contagious is this? Thank you for any answers.

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YogaGirl, the Mayo Clinic has an excellent article about Legionnaires. Look it up on the internet. It is easy reading and informative.

The usual way of getting Legionnaires (according to Mayo) is breathing in mist that contains its bacteria. It can also come from aspirating water that has the bacteria.

It is not contagious at all person-to-person. If two people (or 100 people) are exposed to the same contaminated mist they may all get the disease but each got it from the mist, not from each other. Seems like Mother is safe, at least. They probably moved her back in with Dad as soon as they had the diagnosis and realized it was not a risk to her.

If it is caught early (as it was for your dad) the antibiotics can be very effective. So it sounds like Dad is being cared for appropriately.

My next question would be where did it come from? Is the NH trying to track down the source? It could be showers, tubs, whirlpools, therapy that uses water, any spray mist (common in produce departments, but probably not in nursing homes), a decorative fountain, just about any device that puts water in the air. If I were the NH I'd be very concerned to find the cause and fix it, so others are not exposed to it.

Legionnaires is a reportable disease, that is, one that the CDC keeps track of and that medical staff are supposed to report to them. You might ask if this has been done, mostly as a matter of curiosity. It won't make any difference to your father -- it's more a matter of seeing if the nh is a good citizen.

There are about 5,000 new cases in the US per year. I am very sorry that your poor dad is one of them. Let's hope he recovers nicely, and there are not more cases in that facility. Please keep us informed of his progress.
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Residents can pick up a variety of diseases from a NH, especially if cleaning is substandard. Since your dad is sick (hope he feels better real soon) look for the NH to step up its care and cleaning, lest something bad happens to him, opening them up to be sued.
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