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Open Access Research article

Clinical features and predictors of mortality in admitted patients with community- and hospital-acquired legionellosis: A Danish historical cohort study

Sanne Jespersen1*, Ole S Søgaard1, Henrik C Schønheyder2, Michael J Fine34 and Lars Østergaard1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Infectious Diseases, Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby, Brendstrupgaardsvej 100, 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark

2 Department of Clinical Microbiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aalborg, Mølleparkvej 8A, 9000 Aalborg, Denmark

3 Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, 7180 Highland Drive (151C-H), Pittsburgh, PA 15206-1206, USA

4 Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, UPMC Montefiore Hospital, Suite W933, PA 15213, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:124  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-124

Published: 21 May 2010

Abstract

Background

Legionella is a common cause of bacterial pneumonia. Community-acquired [CAL] and hospital-acquired legionellosis [HAL] may have different presentations and outcome. We aimed to compare clinical characteristics and examine predictors of mortality for CAL and HAL.

Methods

We identified hospitalized cases of legionellosis in 4 Danish counties from January 1995 to December 2005 using the Danish national surveillance system and databases at departments of clinical microbiology. Clinical and laboratory data were retrieved from medical records; vital status was obtained from the Danish Civil Registration System. We calculated 30- and 90-day case fatality rates and identified independent predictors of mortality using logistic regression analyses.

Results

We included 272 cases of CAL and 60 cases of HAL. Signs and symptoms of HAL were less pronounced than for CAL and time from in-hospital symptoms to legionellosis diagnosis was shorter for CAL than for HAL (5.5 days vs. 12 days p < 0.001). Thirty-day case fatality was 12.9% for CAL and 33.3% for HAL; similarly 90-day case fatalities in the two groups were 15.8% and 55.0%, respectively. In a logistic regression analysis (excluding symptoms and laboratory tests) age >65 years (OR = 2.6, 95% CI: 1.1-5.9) and Charlson comorbidty index ≥2 (OR = 2.7, 95% CI: 1.1-6.5) were associated with an increased risk of death in CAL. We identified no statistically significant predictors of 30-day mortality in HAL.

Conclusions

Signs and symptoms were less pronounced in HAL compared to CAL. Conversely, 30-day case fatality was almost 3 times higher. Clinical awareness is important for the timely diagnosis and treatment especially of HAL. There is a need for further studies of prognostic factors in order to improve the therapeutic approach to legionellosis and potentially reduce mortality.