Fatal pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila, serogroup 3: demonstration of the bacilli in extrathoracic organs

Ann Intern Med. 1980 Feb;92(2 Pt 1):186-8. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-92-2-186.


An immunosuppressed patient with malignant lymphoma died of acute pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila. Bacilli of serogroup 3 were detected in areas of pnemonia, in a mediastinal lymph node, and in the liver and spleen by direct immunofluorescence done on tissue obtained at autopsy. That the extrathoracic fluorescent material represented intact bacteria rather than antigenic fragments or antigen-antibody complexes was confirmed by finding intracellular bacilli in the liver by electron microscopy. To our knowledge, this case represents the first example of fatal disease attributed to serogroup 3 L. pneumophila and the first case in which L. pneumophila has been demonstrated in extrathoracic organs.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Legionnaires' Disease / complications
  • Legionnaires' Disease / microbiology*
  • Liver / microbiology*
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Lymph Nodes / microbiology*
  • Lymphoma / complications
  • Male
  • Mediastinum
  • Middle Aged
  • Spleen / microbiology*