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December 3, 1982

New Legionella species caused Windsor, Ont, illness

JAMA. 1982;248(21):2794-2795. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330210004002

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A previously unknown species of Legionella appears to have caused an outbreak of so-called Pontiac fever in a Windsor, Ontario, engine assembly plant in August 1981, according to Epidemic Intelligence Service investigators at Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Pontiac fever, which apparently first occurred in a group of office workers at the Pontiac, Mich, health department in 1968, is a nonpneumonic illness with severe influenzalike symptoms. People with isolated cases of Pontiac fever "would assume that they had a bad case of flu," says Loreen Herwaldt, MD. The cause of the original outbreak, and a couple of subsequent ones, has been established to be Legionella pneumophila.

The newest findings concerning the disease were presented at the recent Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Miami Beach by Herwaldt, currently a fellow in infectious disease at Barnes Hospital, St Louis. She explained that the Canadian Ministry of Health, Ottawa,