Economic Burden of Legionnaires' Disease, United States, 2014

Madeleine Baker-Goering; Kakoli Roy; Chris Edens; Sarah Collier


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2021;27(1):255-257. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Through the use of published estimates of medical costs and new calculations of productivity losses, we estimate the lifetime economic burden of 2014 Legionnaires' disease cases in the United States at ≈$835 million. This total includes $21 million in productivity losses caused by absenteeism and $412 million in productivity losses caused by premature deaths.


Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia that often results in hospitalization.[1] The disease is caused by the Legionella bacteria, which can grow and spread in poorly maintained manmade water systems and can then be inhaled in aerosolized water droplets. In the United States, reported cases of Legionnaires' disease have been increasing since 2000, yet evidence suggests that many outbreaks are related to failures in building water system maintenance and might be preventable.[2] Estimates of costs associated with Legionnaires' disease could help inform prevention efforts.

A recent estimate of the direct medical costs imposed by domestically acquired Legionnaires' disease in 2014 included $402 million in costs incurred as a result of hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits.[1] Previous studies have not estimated productivity losses caused by Legionnaires' disease.

We estimate productivity losses caused by absenteeism and premature deaths. These amounts, when combined with existing estimates of medical costs, provide a more comprehensive estimate of the lifetime economic impact of Legionnaires' disease in the United States for 2014.