Legionella Testing Lab Services
EMLab P&K is one of the leaders for Legionella testing services in the U.S. with more than 15 years of experience and unmatched capacity to handle high sample volumes. In addition to our CDC ELITE certified and accredited laboratories, we offer a nationwide network of laboratories and service centers for logistical support. We support Legionella testing for legionellosis risk management, case investigations and post-remediation through state-of-the-art culture methods and DNA based technology. You can choose from accredited Legionella culture testing services using a variety of methods including ISO 11731, CDC, Legiolert by IDEXX as well as internationally validated PCR testing via iQ-Check®
NOTE: To view sample reports, select a specific Legionella service below.
Outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease receive significant media attention especially when a large number of people become ill or die. In contrast to highly publicized outbreaks, single infections with Legionella bacteria often go unnoticed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires' disease in the United States each year. Legionnaires' disease is a legitimate public health concern as its fatality rate during an outbreak ranges from 5% to 30% in those who contract the disease. The immediate consequences for the building owner or manager faced with liability claims and negative publicity can be devastating and extremely costly. Many experts agree that proactively managing the risk of Legionella bacteria in cooling towers and water systems is more cost effective than responding to an outbreak retroactively.
While a few states and municipalities have instituted guidelines for monitoring Legionella, there are no federal or state regulations that require routine monitoring of buildings with susceptible individuals. We recommend building owners and hospitals establish a Legionella control and management program, including routine monitoring and testing, in areas where the risk of Legionella infection is high. This accomplishes two tasks:
1) It indicates the effectiveness of control measures already in place, and
2) It provides an early warning of potential problems.
Although some species of Legionella can be found in the soil, most species live in water. The Gram-negative Legionella bacterium thrives in warm, stagnant water but it can survive under a wide range of temperatures (68° to 122°F), pH and dissolved oxygen levels. Legionella pneumophila has been isolated and associated with outbreaks stemming from air-conditioning cooling towers, whirlpool spas and showers. Other water devices can include potable water systems, whirlpool baths, respiratory care equipment, humidifiers and faucets. As water from these sources is aerosolized, individuals inhale the Legionella-containing droplets and the organism is aspirated into the lungs. Smokers and individuals with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing Legionellosis (Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever).
Legionella Culture Method
The culture method remains the "gold standard" for detecting Legionella from environmental sources. This technique, unfortunately, requires up to 10 days to complete, precious time that could be used to pinpoint Legionella sources and prevent additional exposures.
Legionella PCR Method
Another Legionella detection method is polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a molecular technique that offers a very sensitive method and only requires a few hours to complete. The PCR method provides an extremely powerful screening tool for the rapid Legionella detection in environmental samples, although it doesn't distinguish between living and dead cells. But unless the environment has been recently altered, such as with a biocide application, moderate to high populations of Legionella detected by PCR are usually indicative of an existing or potential future problem. Therefore, the PCR method can rapidly identify potential sources, facilitating disinfection processes and help to prevent further exposures. Because this method does not determine viability of the Legionella bacteria, the PCR screen must be considered presumptive and requires confirmation via conventional culture techniques.
The number and types of sites that should be tested must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Due to the diversity of plumbing and mechanical systems in buildings, you may need more than one sample from the suspect source. Generally, any water source that may be aerosolized should be considered a potential means for the transmission of the Legionella bacteria.