Legionnaires' disease is a lung infection you can get from inhaling droplets of water from things like air conditioning or hot tubs. It's uncommon but it can be very serious.
How you get Legionnaires' disease
You can get Legionnaires' disease if you breathe in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that cause the infection.
It's usually caught in places like hotels, hospitals or offices where the bacteria have got into the water supply. It's less common to catch it at home.
You can get Legionnaires' disease from things like:
- air conditioning systems
- spa pools and hot tubs
- taps and showers that are not used often
You cannot usually get it from:
- drinking water that contains the bacteria
- other people with the infection
- places like ponds, lakes and rivers
Check if you have Legionnaires' disease
Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include:
- a cough
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or discomfort, particularly when breathing or coughing
- a high temperature
- flu-like symptoms
Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:
You have symptoms of Legionnaires' disease such as:
- a cough that's lasted 3 weeks or more
- coughing up blood
- chest pain that comes and goes, or happens when breathing or coughing
- feeling short of breath
Tell them where you've been in the last 10 days, such as if you stayed in a hotel, spa or hospital.
You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.
Treatment for Legionnaires' disease
You may need to go into hospital if you're diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.
Treatment in hospital may include:
- antibiotics given directly into a vein
- oxygen through a face mask or tubes in your nose
- a machine to help you breathe
When you start to get better you might be able to take antibiotic tablets at home. Antibiotic treatment usually lasts 1 to 3 weeks.
Most people make a full recovery, but it might take a few weeks to feel back to normal.
Page last reviewed: 21 July 2023
Next review due: 21 July 2026