Is driving a car a risk for Legionnaires' disease?

R. Sakamoto, A. Ohno, T. Nakahara, K. Satomura, S. Iwanaga, Y. Kouyama, F. Kura, M. Noami, K. Kusaka, T. Funato, M. Takeda, K. Matsubayashi, K. Okumiya, N. Kato, K. Yamaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Legionnaires' disease (LD) is a major cause of severe community-acquired pneumonia but the source and mode of transmission are not always apparent, especially in sporadic cases. We hypothesized that LD can be acquired from the air-conditioning systems of motor cars. Swabs were taken from the evaporator compartments of the air-conditioning system of scrapped cars. Healthy subjects who were mainly employees of regional transportation companies were tested for antibody to Legionella pneumophila serogroups 1-6; they also completed a questionnaire. Legionella species were detected in 11/22 scrapped cars by the loop-mediated isothermal amplification method. The prevalence of microplate agglutination titres <1:32 was significantly higher in subjects who sometimes used car air-conditioning systems. Although we did not prove a direct link between Legionella spp. in the car evaporator and LD, our findings point to a potential risk of car air-conditioning systems in LD, which needs further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1615-1622
Number of pages8
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 11-2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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