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Unusual Legionnaires' outbreak in cool, dry Western Canada: an investigation using genomic epidemiology

  • N. C. KNOX (a1), K. A. WEEDMARK (a1), J. CONLY (a2) (a3) (a4) (a5) (a6) (a7) (a8), A. W. ENSMINGER (a9) (a10), F. S. HOSEIN (a2) (a11), S. J. DREWS (a2) (a5) (a7) and the Legionella Outbreak Investigative Team...

Summary

An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease occurred in an inner city district in Calgary, Canada. This outbreak spanned a 3-week period in November–December 2012, and a total of eight cases were identified. Four of these cases were critically ill requiring intensive care admission but there was no associated mortality. All cases tested positive for Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 (LP1) by urinary antigen testing. Five of the eight patients were culture positive for LP1 from respiratory specimens. These isolates were further identified as Knoxville monoclonal subtype and sequence subtype ST222. Whole-genome sequencing revealed that the isolates differed by no more than a single vertically acquired single nucleotide variant, supporting a single point-source outbreak. Hypothesis-based environmental investigation and sampling was conducted; however, a definitive source was not identified. Geomapping of case movements within the affected urban sector revealed a 1·0 km common area of potential exposure, which coincided with multiple active construction sites that used water spray to minimize transient dust. This community point-source Legionnaires' disease outbreak is unique due to its ST222 subtype and occurrence in a relatively dry and cold weather setting in Western Canada. This report suggests community outbreaks of Legionella should not be overlooked as a possibility during late autumn and winter months in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence: Dr J. Conly, Foothills Medical Centre, Room AGW5, 1403 29th St NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 2T9. (Email: john.conly@ahs.ca)

References

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Unusual Legionnaires' outbreak in cool, dry Western Canada: an investigation using genomic epidemiology

  • N. C. KNOX (a1), K. A. WEEDMARK (a1), J. CONLY (a2) (a3) (a4) (a5) (a6) (a7) (a8), A. W. ENSMINGER (a9) (a10), F. S. HOSEIN (a2) (a11), S. J. DREWS (a2) (a5) (a7) and the Legionella Outbreak Investigative Team...

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