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Legionnaires' disease - Diagnosing Legionnaires' disease

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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See your GP if you are concerned you have symptoms you think may be the result of Legionnaires' disease.

You should inform your GP if you have recently spent time in a building that could be vulnerable to a legionella infection, such as a hotel or  hospital.

Also let them know if you have travelled away from home - it is estimated that around a third of Legionnaires' disease cases diagnosed in England and Wales originated abroad.

This information will be helpful in confirming a diagnosis and possibly allowing health authorities to pinpoint the source of the infection.

Urine test

Legionnaires' disease can be diagnosed using a urine test. The Legionella bacteria shed proteins called antigens, which can be detected in a urine sample.

If many cases of Legionnaires' disease are suspected, it is possible to get the results of a urine test within a few hours.

Further tests

Further tests, such as a blood test or a chest X-ray, may be recommended to assess the effect of the infection on your overall health and on organs, such as your lungs and kidneys.

Notifiable disease

Legionnaires' disease is a notifiable disease. This means that if a doctor diagnoses the condition, they must tell the local authority under the Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations (1988). The authority will try to identify the source of the outbreak and put in place any necessary precautionary measures.

If you are able to provide the name of the hotel you stayed in while abroad, the UK Public Health authorities will contact the Public Health authorities in that country so the hotel can be inspected.

Medical Review: November 23, 2012
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