Between January 1980 and December 1998, 3458 cases of Legionnaires' disease were reported to the national surveillance scheme in England and Wales. Of these, 463 (13.4%) were reported as proven by culture and isolation of Legionella spp., with 96.3% being Legionella pneumophila. Serogroup (Sgp), monoclonal antibody (mAb) subgrouping and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis data were obtained for 321 (69.3%) of these, of which 284 were classified as being unrelated to any other isolate in the study. Typing data were also available for 117 unrelated environmental isolates of L.pneumophila obtained from England and Wales, giving a total of 401 unrelated isolates in the study. Of the clinical isolates, 88.0% were Sgp1, compared with only 42.7% of environmental isolates (p < 0.001); 79.6% of clinical isolates were subgrouped as mAb2+, compared with only 12.8% of environmental isolates (p < 0.001). RFLP typing identified 67 types among the 401 isolates, with clinical isolates showing significantly less diversity than environmental isolates (index of diversity (IOD) 0.944 vs. 0.958; p < 0.05), with three RFLP types (1, 5 and 14) accounting for 40.0% of all clinical isolates. Combining the phenotypic and genotypic data resulted in 173 distinct phenons, with clinical isolates showing significantly less diversity than environmental isolates (IOD0.964 vs. 0.996; p < 0.01). Three phenons accounted for 30% of all clinical isolates. These data strongly suggest that some strains of L. pneumophila are more likely to cause human infection than would be expected from their distribution in the environment.
- Legionella pneumophila
- Monoclonal antibody subgrouping