What is the incidence of Legionnaires disease in the US?

Updated: Aug 24, 2018
  • Author: Burke A Cunha, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

LD has a reported incidence of 8000-18,000 cases per year. In certain geographic areas, community-acquired LD is more common. Although LD is reportable in all 50 states, it is estimated that only 5-10% of cases are reported. While most cases of the disease are sporadic, 10-20% of them are linked to outbreaks. LD is more common in the summer, especially in August, and is slightly more prevalent in the northern US.

Prevalence reports for Legionella have increased with time, likely due to the availability of more effective testing modalities. However, it is also possible that Legionella infections are increasing in frequency for environmental, population-based, or behavioral reasons.

LD is among the top 3-4 microbial causes of CAP, constituting approximately 1-9% of patients with CAP who require hospitalization. LD is an even more common cause of severe pneumonia in patients who require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), ranking second, after pneumococcal pneumonia, in such cases. In addition, it has become recognized as the most common cause of atypical pneumonia in hospitalized patients.

LD cases acquired in the hospital usually occur as outbreaks and most often result from the presence of legionellae in water sources and on surfaces (eg, pipes, rubber, plastics). The organism is also found in water sediment, which may explain its ability to persist despite flushing of hospital water systems. [7, 8]


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