New Outbreak Alert

The increase in the use of air conditioners with the arrival of the summer months has led to an increase in cases of pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila bacteria, known as Legionnaires' Disease, in children.

With the arrival of the summer months, the increase in the use of air conditioners has led to an increase in pneumonia cases caused by Legionella pneumophila bacteria, known as Legionnaires' Disease, in children.

Stating that diseases due to air conditioning exposure have increased especially in hotels and holiday villages, Altınbaş University Faculty of Medicine Department of Chest Diseases Faculty Member Prof. Dr. Şevket Özkaya stated that it causes more pneumonia in children than COVID-19 and that this situation is surprising and worrying.

Prof. Dr. Özkaya stated that citizens should be careful in the use of air conditioners and especially people with chronic diseases should be more sensitive in this regard.

Chest Diseases Specialist Prof. Dr. Şevket Özkaya stated that these diseases were detected in almost one out of every two people who said "I was hit by air conditioning", especially among people staying in hotels and holiday villages. Prof. Dr. Özkaya emphasized that those most affected by this situation are the children's age group and said, "We have started to see a serious number of cases of pediatric bronchitis and pneumonia at an unprecedented level. Even in the COVID-19 outbreak, we did not see so many pneumonia due to the COVID-19 virus in the pediatric age group. Recently; we see that the 'Legionella' bacteria causes much more pneumonia in the pediatric age group than COVID-19," he said, drawing attention to the seriousness of the situation.

Stating that the bacteria called Legionnaires' disease, Legionella pneumophila, emerged as a result of the growth of the bacteria named Legionella pneumophila from air conditioners, Prof. Dr. Özkaya reminded that this disease can be fatal in those with chronic diseases and that elderly and chronically ill citizens should be careful.

Prof. Dr. Özkaya said that the bacteria can easily multiply in warm water and said, "It usually spreads through a building's contaminated water distribution system. The disease is transmitted to humans by inhaling water droplets suspended in the air. The bacteria is so small that it can settle in small water droplets such as water vapor and become airborne. The bacteria reaches the lungs by inhaling vapor droplets from hot waters such as saunas, baths or hot spring pools with contaminated water. There is no spread from person to person."

Stating that especially air conditioners should be cleaned well, Prof. Dr. Özkaya said that since the complaints in air conditioning pneumonia are less, it may not be understood much because it progresses with mild cold symptoms such as joint pain, fever, weakness and diarrhea like flu. Stating that it can also have fatal consequences in those with chronic diseases, Özkaya said, "With the end of the pandemic, exposure to sudden temperature changes, transitions from cold to heat and air conditioners can be confused with flu and may be ignored. Children are faced with serious cases of pneumonia when they consult a doctor with prolonged cough and fever because they cannot explain what they feel."

Prof. Dr. Özkaya finally stated that citizens who go on vacation or will go on vacation, especially their children, should pay attention to the cleanliness and exposure of the air conditioners they turn on while traveling by car, "They should pay attention to themselves, especially in closed places, and I recommend that they do not lower the air conditioner settings below 22 degrees and not be exposed to too much temperature change."

What is Legionnaires' disease? 

Legionnaires' disease is named after an outbreak of Legionella in Philadelphia in the United States in 1976. This outbreak caused a large number of people to become ill and die at a meeting of a military organization called the American Legionnaires. After the outbreak of the disease in this organization, the term "Legionnaires' Disease" began to be used.

Legionella is usually found in freshwater environments, including lakes, rivers and streams. Legionella can also live in soil, but most people do not get the bacteria from soil. Although it is possible to contract Legionnaires' disease through household plumbing systems, most outbreaks occur in large buildings with communal living, such as hotels. This is because complex distribution systems allow the bacteria to multiply and spread more easily.