Comparative study of the clinical presentation of Legionella pneumonia and other community-acquired pneumonias

Chest. 1998 May;113(5):1195-200. doi: 10.1378/chest.113.5.1195.


The aim of this study was to compare the clinical, biological, and radiologic features of presentation in the emergency ward of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) by Legionella pneumophila (LP) and other community-acquired bacterial pneumonias to help in early diagnosis of CAP by LP. Three hundred ninety-two patients with CAP were studied prospectively in the emergency department of a 600-bed university hospital. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to compare epidemiologic and demographic data and clinical, analytical, and radiologic features of presentation in 48 patients with CAP by LP and 125 patients with CAP by other bacterial etiology (68 by Streptococcus pneumoniae, 41 by Chlamydia pneumoniae, 5 by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, 4 by Coxiella burnetii, 3 by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, 2 by Haemophilus influenzae, and 2 by Nocardia species. Univariate analysis showed that CAP by LP was more frequent in middle-aged, male healthy (but alcohol drinking) patients than CAP by other etiology. Moreover, the lack of response to previous beta-lactamic drugs, headache, diarrhea, severe hyponatremia, and elevation in serum creatine kinase (CK) levels on presentation were more frequent in CAP by LP, while cough, expectoration, and thoracic pain were more frequent in CAP by other bacterial etiology. However, multivariate analysis only confirmed these differences with respect to lack of underlying disease, diarrhea, and elevation in the CK level. We conclude that detailed analysis of features of presentation of CAP allows suspicion of Legionnaire's disease in the emergency department. The initiation of antibiotic treatment, including a macrolide, and the performance of rapid diagnostic techniques are mandatory in these cases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Legionnaires' Disease / diagnosis*
  • Legionnaires' Disease / drug therapy
  • Legionnaires' Disease / epidemiology
  • Macrolides
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Macrolides