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A New Legionella Species, Legionella feeleii Species Nova, Causes Pontiac Fever in an Automobile Plant

LOREEN A. HERWALDT, M.D.; GEORGE W. GORMAN, B.S.; TERESA McGRATH, M.D.; SANDU TOMA, M.D.; BONNIE BRAKE, M.S.; ALLEN W. HIGHTOWER, M.S.; J. JONES, M.D.; ARTHUR L. REINGOLD, M.D.; PETER A. BOXER, M.D.; PATRICK W. TANG, M.Sc.; C. WAYNE MOSS, Ph.D.; HAZEL WILKINSON, Ph.D.; DON J. BRENNER, Ph.D.; ARNOLD G. STEIGERWALT, B.S.; and CLAIRE V. BROOME, M.D.
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▸Requests should be addressed to Loreen A. Herwaldt, M.D.; Division of Bacterial Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control; Atlanta, GA 30333.


Atlanta, Georgia; Toronto and Windsor, Ontario, Canada; and Cincinnati, Ohio


Ann Intern Med. 1984;100(3):333-338. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-100-3-333
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From 15 to 21 August 1981, Pontiac fever affected 317 automobile assembly plant workers. Results of serologic tests were negative for Mycoplasma, Chlamydia, respiratory tract viruses, and previously described legionellae. A gram-negative, rod-shaped organism (WO-44C) that did not grow on blood agar, required L-cysteine for growth, and contained large amounts of branched-chain fatty acids was isolated from a water-based coolant. The organism did not react with antisera against other legionellae, and on DNA hybridization the organism was less than 10% related to other Legionella species. Geometric mean titers found by indirect fluorescent antibody testing to WO-44C were significantly higher in ill employees than in controls (p = 0.0001). Attack rates by department decreased linearly with the department's distance from the implicated coolant system. The etiologic agent apparently was a new Legionella species; we propose the name Legionella feeleii species nova (AATC 35072). This is the first outbreak of nonpneumonic legionellosis in which the etiologic agent is not L. pneumophila, serogroup 1.

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