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Lancet. 1985 Aug 10;2(8450):298-300.

Nosocomial legionellosis in surgical patients with head-and-neck cancer: implications for epidemiological reservoir and mode of transmission.


A prospective pneumonia study was conducted simultaneously on head-and-neck surgery wards at two hospitals over 2 years; one hospital had a water supply contaminated with Legionella pneumophila but no record of having had a case of legionella pneumonia, and the other had just decontaminated its water supply because of known endemic nosocomial legionellosis. Special laboratory tests for legionella were done on all cases of nosocomial pneumonia irrespective of clinical impression. Over the first 18 months, the rate of nosocomial legionellosis was 30% at the first hospital and 0% at the second. Patients who underwent laryngectomy did not acquire the disease. Hyperchlorination at the first hospital was followed by a fall (p less than 0.01) in legionella pneumonias. Thus legionella pneumonias can be overlooked if special laboratory tests are not applied routinely, and surgical patients with head-and-neck cancer may be at high risk of nosocomial legionellosis because of the potential for pulmonary aspiration of contaminated water or orophyaryngeal microflora and/or frequent manipulation of the respiratory tract. This study demonstrates the benefits of examining the environment for legionella despite the absence of documented disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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