Diagnosis of Legionella pneumophila infection by polymerase chain reaction

Clin Infect Dis. 1995 Jul;21(1):199-201. doi: 10.1093/clinids/21.1.199.


We examined the application of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the diagnosis of legionellosis. Eight intratracheal aspirates were collected from a patient with pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila serogroup 2, and serial 10-fold dilutions of the samples were obtained. Two samples were positive for L. pneumophila by the direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) method down to a 10(-2) concentration, and one was positive down to a 10(-4) concentration. PCR was positive for all eight samples, and the sensitivity was greater than that of the DFA method. Only one of the eight samples yielded organisms in culture: the L. pneumophila serogroup 2 strain was isolated on buffered charcoal yeast extract alpha agar as an atypical white, papillate colony.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA Probes / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Legionella pneumophila / genetics*
  • Legionella pneumophila / immunology
  • Legionella pneumophila / isolation & purification
  • Legionnaires' Disease / diagnosis*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / diagnosis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Trachea / microbiology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Bacterial