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A rare case of legionnaire's disease in a month-old baby was reported on Wednesday by doctors at Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel in Petah Tikva. Legionnaire's disease was first reported a few decades ago after infecting participants in an American Legion convention in the US via the hotel's air conditioning system.
Dr. Tommy Scheinfeld of the intensive care unit said it was to the best of his knowlede the first case in Israel of legionnaire's disease in an infant and one of only a handful (about 10) reported in the whole world.
The baby girl was rushed to the emergency room three weeks ago suffering from fever and shortness of breath. An x-ray showed that she had severe pneumonia. She needed to be attached to a respirator in intensive care as her condition worsened; she was also given powerful antibiotics, but her condition remained critical.
Samples from liquids in her lungs were sent to various facilities, including the bacteriological lab at Rambam Medial Center in Haifa. A polymerase chain reaction test to magnify the genes showed that the pneumonia had been caused by legionnella bacteria. Her antibiotics were changed to suit the infection.
After 10 days of being hooked up to pressurized air, the baby is now breathing on her own, although she still needs to breathe oxygen. The death rate of legionnaire's disease in children is high, at 60 percent. Usually the bacteria spread as droplets in infected hot water or affected air conditioning systems.
The hospital reported to the Health Ministry about the rare case, as required, so its epidemiologists could track down the source of the pathogen.