Medicine:Pontiac fever

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Short description: Respiratory disease
Pontiac fever

Pontiac fever is an acute, nonfatal 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 may be caused by the same bacteria, but Pontiac fever does not include pneumonia.[1][2][3][4]


Species of Legionella known to cause Pontiac fever include Legionella pneumophila, Legionella longbeachae, Legionella feeleii, Legionella micdadei, and Legionella anisa.[5] Sources of the causative agents are aquatic systems and potting soil. The first outbreak caused by inhalation of aerosolized potting soil was discovered in New Zealand in January 2007. A total of 10 workers at a nursery came down with Pontiac fever. It was the first identification of L. longbeachae.[6] Pontiac fever does not spread from person to person. It is acquired through aerosolization of water droplets and/or potting soil containing Legionella bacteria.[7]



Pontiac fever is known to have a short incubation period of 1 to 3 days. No fatalities have been reported and cases resolve spontaneously without treatment.[8] It is often not reported.[9] 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.[10][11]


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 re-examined blood samples and discovered the workers had been infected with the newly identified Legionella pneumophila.[12][13] An outbreak caused by Legionella micdadei in early 1988 in the UK became known as Lochgoilhead fever.[14] 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.


  1. "General Information- Pontiac Fever". HPA. 
  2. Castor, Mei Lin; Wagstrom, Elizabeth A.; Danila, Richard N.; Smith, Kirk E.; Naimi, Timothy S.; Besser, John M.; Peacock, Keith A.; Juni, Billie A. et al. (May 2005). "An Outbreak of Pontiac Fever with Respiratory Distress among Workers Performing High‐Pressure Cleaning at a Sugar‐Beet Processing Plant". The Journal of Infectious Diseases 191 (9): 1530–1537. doi:10.1086/428776. PMID 15809913. 
  3. Fields, Barry S.; Haupt, Thomas; Davis, Jeffrey P.; Arduino, Matthew J.; Miller, Phyllis H.; Butler, Jay C. (15 November 2001). "Pontiac Fever Due to Legionella micdadei from a Whirlpool Spa: Possible Role of Bacterial Endotoxin". The Journal of Infectious Diseases 184 (10): 1289–1292. doi:10.1086/324211. PMID 11679917. 
  4. "General Information- Pontiac Fever & Legionnaires' Disease". Legionellacontrol. 
  5. Phin, Nick; Parry-Ford, Frances; Harrison, Timothy; Stagg, Helen R; Zhang, Natalie; Kumar, Kartik; Lortholary, Olivier; Zumla, Alimuddin et al. (October 2014). "Epidemiology and clinical management of Legionnaires' disease". The Lancet Infectious Diseases 14 (10): 1011–1021. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70713-3. PMID 24970283. 
  6. CRAMP, G. J.; HARTE, D.; DOUGLAS, N. M.; GRAHAM, F.; SCHOUSBOE, M.; SYKES, K. (28 September 2009). "An outbreak of Pontiac fever due to Legionella longbeachae serogroup 2 found in potting mix in a horticultural nursery in New Zealand". Epidemiology and Infection 138 (1): 15–20. doi:10.1017/S0950268809990835. PMID 19781115. 
  7. "Legionellosis (Legionnaires' Disease & Pontiac Fever) - Chapter 3 - 2012 Yellow Book - Travelers' Health - CDC". 2011-07-01. 
  8. "Legionella (Legionnaires' Disease and Pontiac Fever". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  9. Pancer, K; Stypułkowska-Misiurewicz, H (2003). "Gorączka Pontiac - pozapłucna postać legionelozy" (in pl). Przeglad Epidemiologiczny 57 (4): 607–12. PMID 15029835. 
  10. Fraser, D.; Deubner, D.; Hill, D.; Gilliam, D. (17 August 1979). "Nonpneumonic, short-incubation-period Legionellosis (Pontiac fever) in men who cleaned a steam turbine condenser". Science 205 (4407): 690–691. doi:10.1126/science.462175. PMID 462175. Bibcode1979Sci...205..690F. 
  11. Friedman, S; Spitalny, K; Barbaree, J; Faur, Y; McKinney, R (May 1987). "Pontiac fever outbreak associated with a cooling tower". American Journal of Public Health 77 (5): 568–572. doi:10.2105/ajph.77.5.568. PMID 3565648. 
  12. "In Philadelphia 30 Years Ago, an Eruption of Illness and Fear". The New York Times. 1 August 2006. 
  13. Tossa, Paul; Deloge-Abarkan, Magali; Zmirou-Navier, Denis; Hartemann, Philippe; Mathieu, Laurence (28 April 2006). "Pontiac fever: an operational definition for epidemiological studies". BMC Public Health 6 (1): 112. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-112. PMID 16646972. 
  14. Goldberg, DavidJ.; Collier, PeterW.; Fallon, RonaldJ.; Mckay, ThomasM.; Markwick, TerenceA.; Wrench, JohnG.; Emslie, JohnA.; Forbes, GeraldI. et al. (February 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. PMID 2563467. 

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