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August 27, 2012

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The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

New Report Confirms Suspicions - Hospital Lab Test on Sick Domainer Finds Legionellosis Bacterial Infection

After dozens of domainers fell ill with acute flu-like symptoms at the same time soon after returning home from last week's DOMAINfest Global conference in Los Angeles, the circumstances led us to believe that the outbreak was a waterborne bacterial infection rather than influenza (see out first posts about this Tuesday and Wednesday.). In a major development today we learned that the first known hospital lab tests done on one of those who fell ill confirmed a Legionellosis bacterial infection.

Yesterday I noted that those going to their doctors were being given antibiotics because a bacterial infection was suspected due to so many people apparently being infected in the same place at the same time. However, U.S. doctors typically do not order expensive lab tests unless someone has pneumonia or an equally serious illness. That is not the case in other countries with advanced health care though.

Four DOMAINfest Global attendees from Sweden fell ill when they returned home over the weekend. Last night, one of the four, Johannes Eriksson, added their names to a long Facebook sick list started by Nico Zeifang, another attendee who fell ill (that list is now up to 65 names - 10 more since yesterday - and I know of a couple of dozen others not on the list). Today Johannes posted an update. One of the four spent the day undergoing tests at a local hospital. With people returning this sick from overseas the Swedish doctors wanted to know exactly what they were dealing with, so they ran a full battery of tests and Johannes said all three test - blood, urine and lung X-ray confirmed Legionellosis.

Image: Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now this part is especially important - there are two distinct forms of Legionellosis. One is indeed the infamous Legionnaires' disease - the more severe form of the infection that produces pneumonia and in a small percentage of cases can be fatal, particularly in older people. The other is Pontiac Fever which is caused by the same bacterium but produces a milder respiratory illness without pneumonia that resembles acute influenza. The latter appears to be what has kept many show attendees bedridden through much of this week. 

Johannes said his friend had used the term "Legionnaires Disease" as well as legionellosis when telling him about the bacterial infection diagnosis in a phone call, but since the doctors allowed him to go home, I think it is safe to assume that his legionellosis was the milder Pontiac Fever strain - otherwise he would still be in the hospital.

Image: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All of this confirms what we have been saying - if you are not getting better you need to see a doctor and get antibiotics to kill this bacteria - over the counter flu remedies will have no impact. Fortunately, the Pontiac Fever bacteria is supposed to die out on its own within five days but some are reporting relapses after they thought they were getting better. Better to get the antibiotics and be safe than sorry when dealing with bacteria.

My wife Diana believes that too so yesterday she scheduled a doctor's appointment after having a bit of a relapse Tuesday night. Her regular doctor is off on Wednesdays so a fill-in physician was there when she arrived. Diana told her what she thought she had and that she believed she had been infected at a conference at the same time as dozens of other people. When Diana mentioned Pontiac Fever she thought she saw a quizzical look in the doctor's eye (like, what does a discontinued automobile brand have to do with you being 

sick)! Doctors are worried about overuse of antibiotics creating super bugs so this one, apparently not sure how much Diana really needed them, said I will prescribe them for you but I don't want you to actually take them for now. Diana agreed but in between the short time she left the office and got home from the pharmacy, the fill-in physician seemed to have boned up on what the Pontiac Fever/Legionnaires virus was - and how dangerous it is to people over 50. Just as Diana was pulling into the driveway the doctor called and said, "Take the pills!!"  That is the only even mildly humorous moment I have seen throughout this whole incident. Like that doctor, if you have this, you need to take it seriously.

I had hoped to hear a lot of reports by this evening that people are getting better and I have gotten a few (glad to hear it Kellie Peterson!) but others say they are still battling it. If that is the case, don't keep trying to battle it on your own. See your doctor tomorrow before they disappear for the weekend!

(Posted Feb. 10, 2011) 

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