Twin babies sleeping 390 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann)
Doctors have diagnosed three cases of Legionnella bacterial pneumonia infections
in babies under the age of one since the beginning of this year, and three
others a year before, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
the ministry, the cases were reported in the Center and coastal
The disease, caused by standing water in pipes such as air
conditioning infrastructure, has rarely been diagnosed in infants; it usually
affects adults – especially the elderly.
Legionellosis is a potentially
fatal infectious disease caused by gram-negative, aerobic bacteria belonging to
the genus Legionella. The vast majority of cases are caused by Legionella
pneumophila, a ubiquitous aquatic organism that thrives in temperatures between
25ºC and 45ºC.
The first-known outbreak occurred in July 1976 among
people attending a convention of the American Legion at a Philadelphia hotel.
Six months later, the factor causing the disease was identified as a previously
unknown strain of bacteria, later dubbed Legionella.
The media splashed
the story everywhere, and panic about potential infection from air conditioning
systems ensued. However, isolated cases are more common than
When there are numerous cases at once, usually in the warmer
months, the death rate has ranged from five percent to 30%.
is also contracted in hospitals, where the death rate among the elderly is
Cold-steam inhalation machines have also been
implicated. The bacteria are naturally found in small amounts that are not
infectious, but in some cases, standing water and calcium deposits create a
larger concentration of the bacteria that can cause disease in people who are
People who smoke, have chronic respiratory disease or other
disorders that weaken their immune systems are at higher risk, but Legionellosis
is not transferable from one person to the next.
According to the Health
Ministry, proper maintenance in public buildings in accordance with ministry
guidelines can prevent infection there.
Water tanks, faucet and shower
heads, and other devices should be properly cleaned and maintained.