How I Acquired Legionnaires’ Disease from a Sports Medicine Facility
By Cesar Collado
I recently suffered from a bout of a then-unknown environmental illness called the Legionnaires’ Disease. In summary, numerous healthy participants at a basketball camp contracted the legionella bacteria from a training room that housed several treatment modalities to treat muscles with cold and heat. In this case, a room with a cold and hot tub was ground zero for the contaminant. It shared an air handling unit with the training room.
Legionella bacteria has to be in a perfect environment to multiply and become aerosolized. It must be stagnant at 68-140 degrees and become aerosolized to be breathed into the lungs. Water systems like whirlpools, water towers, and HVAC systems provide a breeding ground. Because legionella is ubiquitous, it is difficult to predict an outbreak. With the weather so hot, HVAC systems and other water treatment mechanical systems are working overtime and outbreaks have been more common this summer. These outbreaks usually occur in late summer and fall and often occur in medical facilities.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires’ Disease presents many of the same symptoms as mold and mycotoxin exposures. My symptoms included fever of over 102 for almost a week, chills, headache, memory issues, fatigue, soreness, and general malaise. I was fortunate, some patients experience the same symptoms, but with GI disturbance and respiratory illness. Legionnaire’s Disease can develop into pneumonia.
To make a long story short, the university mobilized all resources from their infectious disease teams from the hospital and environmental groups. The facility was closed. Air handling systems were inspected by environmental specialists, and contact tracing was employed. The camp did an exceptional job employing COVID protocol. All attendees, including families, were required to get vaccinations. COVID testing occurred daily before entering the gym. When the illness was discovered, all players were tested a separate time before playing. Some received multiple versions of tests.
I cannot imagine the frustration of people who suffer these symptoms from Legionnaires’ Disease for lengthy, unknown periods of time. Environmental illness is a chronic illness. Patients not only suffer from physical symptoms; both the behavior and cognitive functions being compromised will often result in depression and anxiety. Cognitive symptoms can easily render a person unable to work. If family and friends did not understand or were apathetic, I know I would develop resentments. It is also common for patients to also experience fear due to financial and relationship insecurity.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity1.
When I am sick, I always clean and disinfect my home to the best of my ability for my mind’s sake. While I have been dedicated to understanding environmental illness, I have not suffered from it. To that end, I still use some regular cleaning products in my bathroom and kitchen for expedience’s sake. I did not know that multiple chemical sensitivity was a symptom of Legionnaires’ disease.1.
I began cleaning my bathroom with a product that contained bleach. The smell was so over-powering that I received a potent smell-rejection reaction and a headache, so I had to stop. Later, I used a different product without bleach, but ammonia based, resulting in the same outcome. I then smell-tested several products and experienced the same phenomena. I was chemically sensitive to cleaning products, fragrances, and any materials used with these products.
CitriSafe Remedy Products Delivered
Fortunately, I always keep CitriSafe’s Remedy products handy. I continued my cleaning with the mold solution followed by HavenMist and HEPA vacuuming. The process was bearable with no headache or inhalation repulsiveness. I also washed all clothing from the trip with Remedy Laundry Detergent. This is my standard washing product because of the job it does in deodorizing clothing without a chemical fragrance smell.
I also showered with Remedy Bodywash and Shampoo. This product should be mandatory for people who work in the mold field. This includes physicians and staff, home inspectors, contractors, HVAC technicians, and mold remediators. These professionals are exposed to mold, and potentially mycotoxins, daily.
As with many environmental illnesses, a medical diagnosis is often impossible due to rules and processes used to diagnose and treat disease. Empirical medicine relies on symptoms for diagnosis. Legionnaires’ disease, like mold exposure, shares symptomology with many chronic diseases. Diagnostics that rely on having to culture the pathogen are rarely pursued due to cost and limited clear results from imaging. Unfortunately, today’s western physicians will not pursue an illness caused by the environment before diagnosing and treating other illnesses prior. More to come on this topic.
- Oliver, L.C. “The Indoor Air We Breathe” Public Health Rep.1998 Sep-Oct; 113(5): 398–409.