Legionnaires’ Disease Long-Term Effects

Legionnaires disease, if treated early and correctly, can be fully cured. If there are any long-term effects, they will differ from case to case. Full recovery can take up to a year and sometimes longer. Although the initial and acute symptoms will resolve with proper antibiotic treatment, lingering symptoms may still plague the victim even though the bacteria are no longer present in the system.

Possible long-term effects include the following:

  1. Confusion
  2. Short term memory loss
  3. Long term memory loss
  4. Fatigue
  5. Onset of asthma (although it is unclear, when this occurs, whether Legionnaires’ disease is the sole cause)

For months after recovering from Legionnaires’ disease symptoms, it is not uncommon for a person to feel a lack of energy and experience difficulty in concentrating. For some people, the degree of short and long-term memory loss can extend to a complete lack of recognition of family members. According to a long-term study of Legionnaires’ disease survivors in the Netherlands, additional long-term effects were reported. The study could not determine if the persistence of these symptoms was specifically related to the Legionnaires’ disease or to severe pneumonia in general.

Legionnaires disease risks and symptoms include the following:

  1. Concentration problems and malaise
  2. Neuromuscular symptoms like joint pain and muscle weakness
  3. Cough
  4. Shortness of breath on exertion

If the disease goes untreated, it can spread and infect other parts of the body, including local sites such as wounds and systemic areas like the heart and circulatory system. Life-threatening complications can also develop into long-term effects. Examples of these are respiratory failure, septic shock or acute kidney failure, which would require aggressive and major medical interventions that might or might not resolve the problem. Some patients will die.

The clinical long-term effects of Legionnaires’ disease also impact general lifestyle endeavors, which could lead to the possibility of drastic changes for the individual and his or her family. From a practical point of view, the ability to continue working and earning a living may be compromised as well as the opportunity to pursue athletic and recreation activities. From an emotional aspect, the long-term effects could challenge marital and family relationships. Anyone suffering from long-term fatigue, confusion and chronic aches and pains resulting from a Legionnaires disease outbreak could have a difficult time engaging in his or her previously rewarding lifestyle.