Isolation of the Legionnaires' Disease Bacterium from Environmental Samples

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We analyzed 24 environmental samples collected in or near the Indiana Memorial Union, where an epidemic of Legionnaires' disease occurred in early 1978. We conducted fluorescent antibody analyses and culture on F-G and charcoal yeast extract agars of each sample directly; splenic tissue of guinea pigs inoculated with the sample; and yolk sacs from embryonated eggs inoculated with splenic tissue of guinea pigs injected with the sample. Legionnaires' disease (LD) bacterium was isolated from seven of the 24 samples: one water sample from the air-conditioner cooling tower of the Union; three water samples from a stream near the Union; and three mud samples from the same stream. The LD bacterium strains were of three different serotypes. These findings indicate that LD bacteria may be widespread in nature.

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