Two years' performance of an in-house ELISA for diagnosis of Legionnaires' disease: Detection of specific IgM and IgG antibodies against Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, 3 and 6 in human serum

P. L. Elverdal*, C. S. Jørgensen, K. A. Krogfelt, S. A. Uldum

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance of an in-house ELISA for the diagnosis of Legionnaires' disease (LD) by detection of IgM and IgG antibodies against Legionella (L.) pneumophila serogroups (sg) 1, 3 and 6. The evaluation was done throughout a two-year period in a diagnostic routine laboratory. Furthermore, the sensitivity of four different methods, the in-house L. pneumophila antibody test (ELISA), the urinary antigen test (Binax® EIA), an in-house PCR and culture, both alone and in combination was evaluated. From 2008 to 2010, 12,158 serum samples from 10,503 patients were analysed. During the same period, 361 cases of laboratory-confirmed LD cases were recorded in Denmark, but of these only 113 had a serum sample examined. The positive predictive value of the in-house ELISA was calculated to be 12.8 and the negative predictive value was 99.6, using only the confirmed LD cases as true positives.The sensitivity of the in-house ELISA for the detection of IgM and IgG antibodies in the confirmed LD cases was 61% and 36%, respectively. By combining the two ELISA assays the sensitivity increased to 66%. The sensitivity of the Legionella urinary antigen test (Binax® EIA) was 63%, of the in-house PCR 87% and of culture 69%. When all the different methods were combined, a higher sensitivity was calculated - for in-house ELISA (IgM. +. IgG) and Binax® EIA 91%, in-house ELISA (IgM. +. IgG) and in-house PCR 93%, in-house ELISA (IgM. +. IgG) and culture 93%, Binax® EIA and in-house PCR 79%, Binax® EIA and culture 68% and in-house PCR and culture 94%.This study confirms that the detection of IgG and IgM antibodies by ELISA is an important diagnostic tool, also during the initial phase of the disease. Furthermore, we showed that LD in Denmark with or without serum samples collected exhibits the same age and sex distribution and epidemiology, as in the rest of Europe, i.e., mostly men are infected, infections are mostly community acquired, followed by infection from travelling abroad. Apart from patients with notified LD, the patients investigated by serology were evenly distributed in all age groups; there was only a slightly higher ratio of men tested for "atypical pneumonia" in the serology laboratory.

TidsskriftJournal of Microbiological Methods
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)94-97
Antal sider4
StatusUdgivet - 2013
Udgivet eksterntJa

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