Because Legionnaires' disease is caused by an infection of the bacterium legionella, those who are frequently exposed to unclean water sources where legionella breeds are at risk. Infections have been known to occur in people who work with large cooling towers or air conditioning systems.

The people most at risk for contracting Legionnaires' disease are those with weakened immune systems, as they have little defense against the onset of infection. People with diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes; those who are over the age of 65; and those who have recently undergone an organ transplant have a greater risk of infection. Also, those whose lungs are weakened due to smoking or chronic emphysema are at risk of infection after exposure to the bacterium legionella.

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