A 5-y-old girl was admitted to our hospital with fever, cough, respiratory distress and rapidly increasing oxygen requirements. A chest radiograph showed bilateral central infiltrates. PCR was performed with pharyngeal washings and revealed Legionella DNA, while no genetic materials of other pathogens such as respiratory viruses, Mycoplasma and Chlamydia were detected. The clinical condition improved gradually after administration of steroids and therapy with clarithromycin. Further sequencing of Legionella DNA led to the identification of Legionella waltersii. This Legionella species has never been described as a human pathogen before.
Conclusion: For the first time, L. waltersii was identified as a cause of severe pneumonia. Since L. waltersii is not detected by routine laboratory tests, it may be speculated that these bacteria, like other Legionella species, are underestimated as a probable cause of community-acquired pneumonia.