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Epidemiol Infect. 2008 Feb;136(2):257-62. Epub 2007 May 16.

High prevalence of antibodies to Legionella spp. in Danish blood donors. A study in areas with high and average incidence of Legionnaires' disease.

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Department of Public Health, Health Consultancy Unit, Aarhus, Denmark.


The incidence of Legionnaires' disease has an uneven geographical distribution in Denmark, ranging from 3 to 70 notified cases per million inhabitants per year in different towns. We investigated the prevalence of antibodies to Legionella in the one town with a consistently high incidence (Randers, Aarhus County) and compared it with that of an area of average incidence (Vejle, Vejle County). Blood samples were collected from healthy blood donors in Randers (n=308) and in Vejle (n=400), and analysed for antibodies to Legionella by indirect immunofluorescence antibody test with L. pneumophila, L. micdadei, and L. bozemanii as antigens. Overall 22.9% of the donors had antibody titres of > or = 1:128; indicating that antibodies to Legionella are common in healthy individuals, and reflecting that the bacteria may be widely distributed in the environment. Surprisingly, the study did not reveal a higher prevalence in the hyperendemic area. Thus, the high incidence of notified cases in this particular town may not be attributed to an overall increased exposure of the general population.

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