What is Legionella bacterium?

Updated: Mar 11, 2021
  • Author: Chinelo N Animalu, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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The Legionella bacterium is a small, aerobic, waterborne, gram-negative, unencapsulated bacillus that is nonmotile, catalase-positive, and weakly oxidase-positive. It is a fastidious organism and does not grow anaerobically or on standard media. Buffered charcoal yeast extract (CYE) agar is the primary medium used for isolation of the bacterium. 

The Legionellaceae family consists of more than 42 species, constituting 64 serogroups. L pneumophila is the most common species, causing up to 90% of the cases of legionellosis, followed by L micdadei (otherwise known as the Pittsburgh pneumonia agent), L bozemaniiL dumoffii, and L longbeachae. Fifteen serogroups of L pneumophila have been identified, with serogroups 1, 4, and 6 being the primary causes of human disease. Serogroup 1 is thought to be responsible for 80% of the reported cases of legionellosis caused by L pneumophila. [1]


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