Weather-Dependent Risk for Legionnaires' Disease, United States


Using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample and US weather data, we estimated the probability of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) being diagnosed as Legionnaires' disease (LD). LD risk increases when weather is warm and humid. With warm weather, we found a dose-response relationship between relative humidity and the odds for LD. When the mean temperature was 60°-80°F with high humidity (>80.0%), the odds for CAP being diagnosed with LD were 3.1 times higher than with lower levels of humidity (<50.0%). Thus, in some regions (e.g., the Southwest), LD is rarely the cause of hospitalizations. In other regions and seasons (e.g., the mid-Atlantic in summer), LD is much more common. Thus, suspicion for LD should increase when weather is warm and humid. However, when weather is cold, dry, or extremely hot, empirically treating all CAP patients for LD might contribute to excessive antimicrobial drug use at a population level.

Emerging Infectious Diseases
Jacob Simmering
Jacob Simmering
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine

Health, data, and statistics.