The Philadelphia Epidemic of Legionnaire's Disease: Clinical, Pulmonary, and Serologic Findings Two Years Later

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Abstract

Clinical, pulmonary, and serologic findings in Legionnaires who attended the 1976 American Legion Convention in Philadelphia were studied 2 years after the Legionnaires' disease epidemic there. All 31 survivors of Legionnaires' disease studied became ill within 2 weeks after the convention, and 18 had not fully recovered 2 years after the epidemic. Twenty-five (28%) of 90 additional Legionnaires exposed at the convention but not diagnosed as having Legionnaires' disease became ill during the same time interval; five of these had symptoms during the next 2 years. Survivors had decreased diffusion capacities measured by the carbon monoxide single-breath method. These differences could not be accounted for by ventilation abnormalities or concurrent illness. Significant levels of IgG or IgM antibodies persisted in 94% of survivors of Legionnaires' disease and in 53% of Legionnaires exposed at the convention, which suggests a high prevalence of subclinical infection. Persistence of IgM antibody raises the question of latency or subclinical infection as part of the natural history of Legionnaires' disease.

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