A Case of Legionella pneumophila Serogroup 13 Pneumonia Based on the Detection of Serogroup-Specific Genes in Culture-Negative Sputum

Jpn J Infect Dis. 2024 Mar 21;77(2):118-120. doi: 10.7883/yoken.JJID.2023.302. Epub 2023 Nov 30.


Legionella pneumophila serogroup (SG) 1, the main cause of Legionnaires' disease, can be diagnosed using urinary antigen testing kits. However, lower respiratory tract specimen cultures are required to identify L. pneumophila SG 2-15. We attempted to detect L. pneumophila SG-specific genes in a culture-negative sputum specimen from a patient with pneumonia who was suspected to have Legionnaires' disease. Two multiplex PCR methods targeting L. pneumophila were modified and amplicons considered to be SG13 specific were detected. Direct sequencing revealed that the amplicons were identical to the nucleotide sequence of L. pneumophila SG13. Based on the presentation and clinical course (fever, muscle pain, disturbance of consciousness, high C-reactive protein titer, rhabdomyolysis, hypophosphatemia, and symptomatic improvement with levofloxacin treatment), in combination with the detection of L. pneumophila SG-specific genes, we suspected L. pneumophila SG13 pneumonia. L. pneumophila non-SG1 pneumonia is thought to be underestimated because of its difficult laboratory diagnosis. The modified multiplex PCR system for lower respiratory tract specimens revealed in this study is likely to improve the diagnosis of Legionnaires' disease caused by L. pneumophila SG13 and other SGs.

Keywords: Legionella pneumophila; legionnaires' disease; lower respiratory tract specimen; multiplex PCR; serogroup 13.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Legionella pneumophila* / genetics
  • Legionnaires' Disease* / diagnosis
  • Legionnaires' Disease* / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia* / diagnosis
  • Serogroup
  • Sputum