Legionnaires' Disease in Pneumonia Patients in Iowa: A Retrospective Seroepidemiologic Study, 1972–1977

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Abstract

The frequency of Legionnaires' disease among 586 cases of pneumonia that occurred in Iowa between fiscal years 1972 and 1977 was studied retrospectively on the basis of paired sera. The frequency of confirmed Legionnaires' disease was 4.1% and of presumptive Legionnaires' disease was 11.4%. Infections with the Legionnaires' disease (LD) bacterium were most frequent in the summer. Of the 22% of pneumonias for which a cause could be defined, Legionnaires' disease was third in frequency behind Mycoplasma pneumoniae and influenza A virus infections. Infections with the LD bacterium occurred in association with pneumonias in most age groups. The youngest patient with LD infection was a 5-year-old boy with pneumonia. The disease occurred 3.2 times more often in males than in females. In males the frequency of confirmed and presumptive Legionnaires' disease increased steadily to plateau after the fourth decade at about 12% and 28%, respectively. In females the frequency of presumptive Legionnaires' disease was 7% to 16%, relatively evenly distributed over all age groups. Pneumonias associated with LD bacterium infection should be considered in the differential diagnosis of community-acquired pneumonias in most age groups.

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