Legionnaire's disease (lēˌjənârzˈ) [key], infectious, sometimes fatal, disease characterized by high fever, dry cough, lung congestion, and subsequent pneumonia. Major organs, such as the heart, may be damaged as the disease progresses. The disease struck over 180 people attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia in July, 1976—hence the name. The causative bacterium, later identified as Legionella pneumophilia, is inhaled via contaminated water droplets, primarily from air conditioning and ventilation systems. A milder form of the disease has also been identified. Treatment is with the antibiotic erythromycin.
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