You cannot catch Legionnaires’ disease from a mask

18 August 2020
What was claimed

A woman was hospitalised with suspected Covid-19, only for her illness to be shown to be Legionnaires’ disease caught from a mask.

Our verdict

You cannot catch Legionnaires’ disease from a mask.

A Facebook post shared hundreds of times has claimed that a woman who thought she had Covid-19 actually had actually contracted Legionnaires’ disease from her mask.

The post reads: “Mask wearers beware... Worth checking it out.

A caller to a radio talk show recently shared that his wife was hospitalized and told she had COVID and only a couple of days left to live. A doctor friend suggested she be tested for legionnaires disease because she wore the same mask every day all day long. Turns out it WAS legionnaires disease from the moisture and bacteria in her mask. She was given antibiotics and within two days was better. WHAT IF these "spikes" in COVID are really something else due to mask wearing??”

This is incorrect. You cannot catch Legionnaires’ disease from wearing a mask. A US non-profit, Legionella, that raises awareness about the disease says, “You cannot contract Legionnaires' disease from wearing face masks. Legionella bacteria is transmitted by aspirating drinking water or breathing in water droplets. Legionella is not spread from person-to-person in respiratory droplets nor does the bacteria survive on dry surfaces. Your mask would not be a source of transmission for the Legionella bacteria.”

What is true is that Legionnaires’ disease and Covid-19 have some similar symptoms—high temperature and coughing. So it could be possible for one to be confused for the other, but Legionnaires’ disease is relatively uncommon and someone could not catch it from wearing a mask or face covering.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because Legionnaires’ disease cannot be caught from masks.

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