Legionella birminghamensis

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Legionella birminghamensis is a Gram-negative, nonspore-forming, aerobic bacterium from the genus Legionella, which was isolated from a cardiac transplant recipient in Birmingham.

The strain was found in the lung of a 47-year-old male who had undergone a heart transplant performed by James Kirklin at UAB Hospital in February 1986 and was undergoing immunosuppressive therapy. A lesion was detected in his left lung in April of that year and a biopsy was ordered. After nine days a Legionella strain was positively identified. The patient was discharged when the lesion was successfully treated. He later died as a result of rejection of the transplanted heart and there was no indication that the lung infection had reappeared.

The bacterial strain was further studied by Sarah Polt and Eneida Bookings at UAB, and by Roy Gilley at the Alabama State Health Department's laboratory, where it resisted identification by standard test. The isolate was then sent to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia where its status as a new strain was proposed.

The finding was published by H. W. Wilkinson and others in 1987 and validated in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology in 1988. At the time of its publication, Legionella birminghamsensis was recorded as the 24th known strain of its genus. Since then another isolate of the same strain has been found in a water sample taken near Clermont-Ferrand, France.


  • Wilkinson, H. W., et al (November 1987) "Legionella birminghamensis sp. nov. isolated from a cardiac transplant recipient." Journal of Clinical Microbiology. No. 25, pp. 2120-2122
  • "Validation List No. 25" (1988) International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, No. 38, pp. 220-222.