HENRY D. ISENBERG, Ph.D.
Legionnaires' disease bacterium in tissue does not readily react with the Gram stain but can be seen by other stains and direct immunofluorescence. It is a slow-growing, aerobic, gram-negative rod that can be cultivated over a narrow temperature range on Mueller-Hinton agar supplemented either with complex biological mixtures or certain ferric salts and cysteine. The bacterium produces unique, branched-chain fatty acids, catalase, oxidase (weakly), and gelatinase and uses starch while ignoring other carbohydrates. Pigment production is related to tyrosine in the medium. In-vitro studies suggest susceptibility to all antibiotics except vancomycin, but a class 1 beta-lactamase has been demonstrated. Analysis of DNA confirmed the unrelatedness of this bacterium to previously recognized prokaryotes. Diagnosis of the disease has depended largely on serologic test findings and the demonstration of the bacterium in tissue and, occasionally, on isolation. Additional, simpler, and more rapid diagnostic tests should soon be available.
ISENBERG HD. Microbiology of Legionnaires' Disease Bacterium. Ann Intern Med. 1979;90:499–502. doi: https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-90-4-502
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1979;90(4):499-502.
Infectious Disease, Pulmonary/Critical Care.
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