Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by a bacterium known as legionella. Common symptoms include high fever, chills, body pain, cough, hemoptysis, breathlessness, chest pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion and other mental illnesses. This disease may rarely cause infections in wounds and in other parts of the body including the heart. Old age; a history of smoking; the presence of chronic disorders like lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease or cancer; a weakened immune system; and having a job related to air conditioning systems-maintenance, are risk factors for this condition.
The Ayurvedic treatment of Legionnaires’ disease is aimed at treating the basic infection and preventing complications like respiratory failure, kidney failure and septic shock. Medicines like Shwas-Kuthar-Ras, Tribhuvan-Kirti-Ras, Maha-Sudarshan-Churna, Sitopaladi-Churna, Talisadi-Churna, Ras-Sindur, Malla-Sindur, Sameer-Pannag-Ras, Abhrak-Bhasma, Shrung-Bhasma, Pushkarmool (Inula racemosa), Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum), Kushtha (Saussurea lappa), Kulingan (Alpimia galangal), Som (Ephedra vulgaris), Karkatashrungi (Pistichia integerima), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra) and Vasa (Adhatoda vasaka) are used to treat fever and lung infection.
Medicines like Vasa, Naagkeshar (Messua ferrea), Laxa (Purified wax) and Sphatik-Bhasma are used to prevent hemoptysis. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can be treated using medicines like Laghu-Sutshekhar, Praval-Panchamrut, Sutshekhar-Ras, Shankh-Vati, Kutaj-Ghan-Vati and Panchamrut-Parpati. Confusion and mental changes can be prevented using medicines like Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) and Bruhat-Vat-Chintamani. Respiratory failure and septic shock can be treated using medicines like Laxmi-Vilas-Ras, Shrung-Bhasma, Maha-Laxmi-Vilas-Ras, Abhrak-Bhasma, Arjun (Terminalia arjuna) and Makardhwaj-Ras. Kidney failure can be treated using medicines like Punarnavadi-Guggulu, Gokshuradi-Guggulu, Saarivadi-Churna, Gomutra-Haritaki and Chandraprabha-Vati.
Legionnaires’ disease may be fatal, especially in the presence of a weakened immune system. Prompt and aggressive hospital treatment is therefore very important in the management of this condition. Ayurvedic medicines may be given as additional therapy to improve the therapeutic response and prevent complications. It is equally important to prevent outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease by meticulous cleaning and disinfection of water systems, pools and spas.