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January 18, 1977: Isolating Legionnaires' Disease

Posted January 18, 2007 5:01 PM by Steve Melito
Pathfinder Tags: January 18

Thirty years ago today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that a team of researchers led by Joseph McDade had isolated the bacterium that causes Legionnaires' Disease. The CDC's discovery of Legionella in a hotel cooling tower ended months of speculation about a mysterious pneumonia-like illness which affected veterans at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Ultimately, over 250 men and women were stricken by the epidemic which became known as Legionnaires' Disease.

During the summer and fall of 1976, the CDC questioned over 4,400 conventioners and their families. Researchers took air, water, and soil samples from around the Bellevue-Stratford hotel, and autopsied 34 cadavers at the microscopic level. Although Joseph McDade was unable to grow the Legionella bacterium under laboratory conditions, he still obtained evidence of its existence and pathogenesis through experimentation.

Today, manufacturers and regulatory agencies mandate more stringent cleaning provisions for cooling towers and large-scale air conditioning systems. Still, between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires' Disease each year. Initial symptoms include a high fever, chills, and cough. Some people also suffer from head and muscle aches. A milder infection caused by the same type of Legionella bacteria is called Pontiac Fever. Separately or together, Pontiac Fever and Legionnaires' disease comprise Legionellosis.

Resources:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/legionellosis_g.htm#1

http://justice.loyola.edu/~klc/BL472/Legionnaire/history.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legionella

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#1

Re: January 18, 1977: Isolating Legionnaires' Disease

01/20/2007 1:02 AM

Thanks Moose for the information. Few have acces to said information. Those who know are not allowed to tell. The numbers cited are conservative.

Black bird droppings spread the disease to people traveling in a caravan of wagons after camping under pine trees. From Charleston Tenn to the TVA ivory towers in Knoxville Tn. the local hospitals helped identify the threat and methods of transmittal. CDC in Atlanta keeps the details under cover for fear of, well - the truth hurts. What would be the public reaction if only John Q knew the facts?

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#2
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Re: January 18, 1977: Isolating Legionnaires' Disease

01/20/2007 8:53 AM

Glad you enjoyed the article, Cornstoves. Keep comin' back.

Moose

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#3

Re: January 18, 1977: Isolating Legionnaires' Disease

01/23/2007 10:30 AM

GOOD REPORT, MOOSE!!!!

What an incredibly informative historical review. After all this work 30 years ago by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there is STILL a problem that afflicts 8,000 to 18,000 in the United States each year such that they need hospitalization. How much additional harm is being done to our health by Legionellosis that is not quantified? How dreadful are the statistics worldwide?

As I review the CDC website, I generated 538 search results of the term 'legionnaire'. It is clear that there is much work still underway to understand, control and eradicate this problem. The most recent post from January 19 covers issues for buildings resuming safe operations after a disaster (i.e. Hurricane Katrina?)

We deal with a certain amount of risk in all that we do in our lives but the gravity of the problem discussed here, the length of time for which there has been acknowledgement of the problem suggests to me that there should be more discussion, attention and public discourse on the risks and concerns for all.

Were you to know this disease and its impact on a personal level, as my family does, you would understand the passion in my plea.

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Anonymous Poster
#4

Re: January 18, 1977: Isolating Legionnaires' Disease

06/15/2010 7:56 AM

informative and detailed article on Legionella treatment, I have also found a useful Legionella treatment site here;

http://www.howlettassociates.co.uk/legionella-water-control-explained.html

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