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Infez Med. 2004 Mar;12(1):69-75.

Microbiological investigations on a nosocomial case of Legionella pneumophila pneumonia associated with water birth and review of neonatal cases.

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Infectious Diseases Unit, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.


A case of Legionella pneumophila 1 pneumonia, confirmed by positive serology and urinary antigen, occurred in a 7-day old neonate after water birth in hospital. As respiratory samples were not available for culture, further microbiological investigations were performed in neonate and environment, in order to recognize the source of infection. The hospital water supply was contaminated by L. pneumophila 1 strains (300-2000 cfu/L) of two monoclonal subtypes of Pontiac subgroup. L. spiritensis (10-225 cfu/L) was isolated from cold tap water of the patient's home. PCR from tap and humidifiers water of the patient's home was positive for Legionella spp, but not for L. pneumophila. Because L. pneumophila 1, responsible of child infection, was only isolated from the hospital pool water for waterbirthing, we conclude that the infant acquired the nosocomial legionellosis by prolonged delivery in contaminated water, perhaps by aspiration. Infection control measures for waterbirthing are highly recommended. A review of neonatal case of legionellosis is also presented. As this rare infection may have a high fatality rate if unrecognized, pediatricians should be aware of the possibility of the legionellosis in newborns.

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