Legionnaires' disease

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:

You cannot usually get it from:

Check if you have Legionnaires' disease

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include:

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:

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