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The World in Medicine
November 17, 2004

Legionnaires Disease Advances

JAMA. 2004;292(19):2329. doi:10.1001/jama.292.19.2329-b

In 2 new reports, scientists described advances in deciphering the genome of the bacterium that causes legionnaires disease that may help investigators understand the microbe’s adaptability and speed the development of new treatments.

Researchers from the United States, France, and Israel reported in late September that they had sequenced a strain of Legionella pneumophila derived from the 1976 isolate that caused a US outbreak at an American Legion convention (Science. 2004;305:1966-1968). The work revealed genes that “may account for Legionella’s ability to survive in protozoa, mammalian macrophages, and inhospitable environmental niches and that may define new therapeutic targets,” they noted. L pneumophila thrives in warm stagnant water (such as that found in certain plumbing systems and hot water tanks) and can cause illness when individuals inhale mists from such sources.