Pontiac fever

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Pontiac fever
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 A48.1, A48.2
ICD-9 482.84
DiseasesDB 7366
MedlinePlus 000616
eMedicine med/1273
MeSH D007876

Pontiac fever is an acute, non-fatal respiratory disease caused by various species of Gram-negative bacteria in the genus Legionella. It causes a mild upper respiratory infection that resembles acute influenza. Pontiac fever resolves spontaneously and often goes undiagnosed. Both Pontiac fever and the more severe Legionnaire's disease are caused by the same bacteria, however Pontiac fever does not include pneumonia.[1][2][3]

Pontiac fever was named for Pontiac, Michigan where the first case was recognized. In 1968, several workers at the county's department of health came down with a fever and mild flu symptoms, but not pneumonia. After the 1976 Legionnaires' outbreak in Philadelphia, the Michigan health department reexamined blood samples and discovered the workers had been infected with the newly identified Legionella pneumophila.[4][5] An outbreak caused by Legionella micdadei in early 1988 in the UK became known as Lochgoilhead Fever.[6] Since that time, other species of Legionella that cause Pontiac fever have been identified, most notably in New Zealand, in 2007 where Legionella longbeachae was discovered. The New Zealand outbreak also marked the first time Pontiac fever had been traced to potting soil.

Causal species[edit]

Species of Legionella known to cause Pontiac fever include Legionella pneumophila, Legionella longbeachae, Legionella feeleii, Legionella micdadei and Legionella anisa.


Pontiac fever is known to have a short incubation period between 1 to 3 days. No fatalities have been reported and cases resolve spontaneously without treatment.[7] It is often not reported.[8] Age, gender and smoking do not seem to be risk factors. Pontiac fever seems to affect young people in the age medians of 29, 30, and 32. Pathogenesis of the Pontiac fever is poorly known.[9] [10]


Sources of the causative agents are aquatic systems and potting soil. The first outbreak caused by inhalation of aersolized potting soil was discovered in New Zealand in January 2007. A total of ten workers at a nursery came down with Pontiac fever. It was the first identification of Legionella longbeachae.[11]


Pontiac fever does not spread from person to person. It is acquired through aersolization of water droplets and/or potting soil containing Legionella bacteria.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "General Information- Pontiac Fever". HPA. Retrieved 2013-04-07. 
  2. ^ http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/191/9/1530.full.pdf
  3. ^ "Pontiac Fever Due to Legionella micdadei from a Whirlpool Spa: Possible Role of Bacterial Endotoxin". Jid.oxfordjournals.org. Retrieved 2013-04-07. 
  4. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/01/health/01docs.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  5. ^ "biocentral.com". biocentral.com. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  6. ^ Goldberg, DavidJ. (1989). "LOCHGOILHEAD FEVER: OUTBREAK OF NON-PNEUMONIC LEGIONELLOSIS DUE TO LEGIONELLA MICDADEI". The Lancet 333 (8633): 316–318. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(89)91319-6.  edit
  7. ^ http://www.cdc.gov/legionella/clinicians.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  8. ^ Pancer K, Stypulkowska-Misiurewicz H: Pontiac fever – non-pneumonic legionellosis. Przegl Epidemiol 2003, 57:607-12
  9. ^ Fraser DW, Deubner DC, Hill DL, Gilliam DK: Nonpneumonic, short-incubation-period Legionellosis (Pontiac fever) in men who cleaned a steam turbine condenser. Science 1979, 205:690-1.
  10. ^ Friedman S, Spitalny K, Barbaree J, Faur Y, Mckinney R: Pontiac fever outbreak associated with a cooling tower. Am J Public Health 1987, 77:568-72
  11. ^ "An outbreak of Pontiac fever due to Legione... [Epidemiol Infect. 2010] - PubMed - NCBI". Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  12. ^ Lauri A. Hicks, Laurel E. Garrison (2011-07-01). "Legionellosis (Legionnaires’ Disease & Pontiac Fever) - Chapter 3 - 2012 Yellow Book - Travelers' Health - CDC". C.cdc.gov. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 

External links[edit]