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Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2009 Aug;15(8):1240-4. doi: 10.1002/ibd.20866.

Severe Legionella pneumophila pneumonia following infliximab therapy in a patient with Crohn's disease.

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Department of Medicine II, University Hospital Munich-Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany.



Immunosuppressive therapy with anti-TNF-alpha antibodies is effective in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, there is an increased risk for infections associated with this therapy.


Here, we report the case of a 58-year-old patient with Crohn's disease (CD) treated with steroids and azathioprine who developed severe Legionella pneumophila pneumonia after 3 infusions of infliximab. The patient presented at our IBD department with severe active CD complicated by inflammatory small bowel stenoses and entero-enteral fistulas despite long-term high-dose steroid therapy. To achieve steroid tapering and control of disease activity, immunosuppressive therapy with azathioprine was initiated. Due to persistent symptoms, infusion therapy with the anti-TNF-alpha antibody infliximab was started, subsequently leading to significant clinical improvement. However, after the third infliximab infusion the patient was hospitalized with fever, severe fatigue, and syncope.


Laboratory findings and chest X-ray revealed left-sided pneumonia; cultural analysis showed L. pneumophila serogroup 1 leading to respiratory insufficiency, which required mechanical ventilation for 2 weeks in the intensive care unit. After discontinuation of all immunosuppressive agents and immediate antibiotic therapy the patient recovered completely.


To our knowledge, this is the third case of L. pneumophila pneumonia in an IBD patient treated with infliximab. Similar to other published cases, concomitant treatment of immunosuppressives and anti-TNF agents is a major risk factor for the development of L. pneumophila infection, which should be ruled out in all cases of pneumonia in patients with such a therapeutic regimen. Appropriate prevention strategies should be provided in these patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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