Legionnaires' disease is on the rise, warns Janet E. Stout, PhD. This respiratory infection is caused by a bacteria most often found in water distribution and air-conditioning systems of large buildings and cruise ships. More than 20,000 cases occur nationwide each year. About one-quarter of those afflicted die. Symptoms—high fever, cough, headache and diarrhea-are similar to those of other illnesses, so the disease may go untreated until it is too late for antibiotics to work.

Self-defense: If you experience symptoms and recently have been in a hospital or hotel or on a cruise ship, ask to be tested for the disease.

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