Legionella Frequently Asked Questions

What is Legionella? contracting LD include smokers, organ transplant patients,
patients with cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, kidney
Legionella is the name given to a genus of bacteria of which disease, and any immunosuppressed condition.
40 species have been identified. Legionellae are rod-shaped,
aerobic organisms that are widespread and commonly What environmental factors support
present in both natural and man-made aquatic environ- the amplification of Legionella?
ments. While many of these species have been associated
with human disease, Legionella pneumophila, which means Legionella organisms are widespread and are found in natu-
“lung-loving,” is the most virulent. Of the fourteen ral and man-made water systems. Conditions that favor the
Legionella pneumophila serogroups identified, serogroups 1, growth of Legionella include:
4 and 6 account for approximately 90% of reported cases of
Legionellosis. • Water temperatures in the range of 68° to 122° F (20° to
50° C).
What is Legionellosis? • Stagnant water conditions especially those found in
certain water systems containing tanks, reservoirs, ba-
Legionellosis is the term used for infections caused by the sins, fittings, piping, etc.
inhalation of airborne water droplets containing the • Scale, sediments and sludges.
Legionella pneumophila bacteria. There are two clinical • The presence of biofilms, which provide nutrient
forms of Legionellosis: sources and protect the organisms from microbiocides
that would otherwise destroy Legionella.
• Pontiac Fever is a nonfatal, flu-like illness that typi-
cally lasts for five to ten days. This illness is generally What are the most common sources of
mild and often undiagnosed; therefore, statistical in- Legionella associated with
formation on its occurrence is sparse. Legionnaires’ disease?
• Legionnaires’ disease is a severe respiratory infection
that can cause serious complications and possibly The most common sources of Legionella-contaminated aero-
death. Signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease sols causing infection are water systems having ideal envi-
resemble other bacterial pneumonias, making diagno- ronmental factors that favor growth. Areas that provide the
sis and treatment difficult. The Centers for Disease greatest Legionella growth and transmission through aero-
Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between sols include cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hu-
10,000 and 50,000 cases occur each year. The fatality midifiers, misters, domestic hot water systems, showers,
rate is estimated at 15 to 20 percent; however, in immu- spas and whirlpools and decorative fountains.
nosuppressed persons or those with other underlying
diseases, this figure can be much higher. Can Legionnaires’ disease be
How is Legionnaires’ disease
transmitted? Legionella bacteria are pervasive and proliferate in many
water sources. Therefore the organism cannot be fully
Legionnaires’ disease (LD) is caused by inhaling airborne eradicated. However, by implementing an effective Le-
droplets or mist containing viable Legionella pneumophila, gionella risk management program, it is possible to reduce
which are small enough to pass deep into the lungs. Most the potential for growth, dissemination and transmission of
healthy people are resistant to infections caused by the the organism, and subsequently reduce the potential for ex-
Legionella bacteria; however, some people are at an in- posure to the bacteria.
creased risk. Individuals who have an increased risk of

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DREW INDUSTRIAL DIVISION • One Drew Plaza, Boonton, New Jersey 07005 • Tel: (973) 263-7600 • Fax: (973) 263-4483

borne particles that are scrubbed from the air. Increasing the existing microbiocide dosages can usually reduce these • Sterilization – Periodic disinfecting discourages the levels. routine visible inspection must be researched. 4 . com. intensive microbiological (CWT-TP-65). The Best Practices microbio- logical program includes both oxidizing and nonoxi.An effective Drew Industrial Best Prac. Alternating microbiocides with • Documentation .Does Drew Industrial Division offer a Is routine testing for Legionella Legionella risk management program? recommended? Drew Industrial Division has extensive. formance-based” program reduce all bacteria growth (in- lection of proper precautionary measures and treat. to eliminate the organism from the system. reduction is not the primary objective of these programs. then further investigation for potential growth sites that may not be evident during • Monitoring . tial for Legionella contamination. control. Drew Industrial’s intensive microbiologi- cal treatment program addresses both sessile and Legionella. Why do systems that are effectively dizing microbiocides that are expected to be effective treated still show positive results? on Legionella. like all bacteria. Interpretation and action plans for various levels of Legionella can be found in the technical paper entitled • Intensive Microbiological Treatment Program – Ap. Best Practices is a proactive. growth. Legionella contamination. Drew Industrial’s serve as a useful control tool. system approach to minimizing the prolifera. Is an adequately maintained. If the system tests positive. The assessment be- gins with a formal survey for the evaluation of specific What should I do if my cooling tower risk factors. Drew Industrial offers a wide range of program sufficient in controlling both on-line and off-line control and monitoring sys- tems designed to accommodate a variety of applica- Legionella growth within the system? tions of all levels of complexity. and monitoring. most systems have a 40-60 per- Practices Legionella risk management cent chance of testing positive. be sure a contingency plan is in ment program consists of the following components: place such as the ability to increase microbiocide dosage rates until a hyperchlorination and cleaning of the system • System Assessment – A comprehensive mechanical can be achieved. what is the agencies in both the United States and United Kingdom. cluding Legionella) within a system. “Legionella General Information and Current Trends. Prior to testing. Contact your Drew Industrial representative treatment program specifically designed to minimize for further details and information. tion of Legionella through both mechanical and chemical This period is too long to allow Legionella monitoring to assessment. Further. Routine monitoring of critical water param- eters and system indicators is the best means of assur. cooling towers through the cooling water makeup and air- harboring biofilms. likelihood of a positive test? What is Drew Industrial’s Best Based on published studies. If Legionella levels within the system do not respond growth of Legionella as well as their host organisms. Best Practices program is based on years of experience as well as key recommendations published by authoritative If I do test for Legionella. Legionella ments to minimize exposure. followed by an assessment of the level of tests positive for Legionella? bacterial contamination and development of action plans to reduce bacterial levels. treatment. global experience Most professional and government agencies that have is- treating Legionella in industrial cooling systems and offers sued Legionella position statements and guidelines do not an effective 5-component “Best Practices” Legionella risk recommend testing on a routine basis because of the diffi- management program.Our Best Practices documentation proper levels of oxidizers within the framework of a “per- package provides a record system to assist with the se. accurate prehensive. Legionella testing requires a 10-14 day turnaround time. Only to a limited extent. However. culty in interpreting Legionella test results. take measures and chemical assessment of the water system’s poten. This high probability sub- program? stantiates the importance of implementing an intensive microbiological treatment program to minimize Legionella Drew Industrial’s Best Practices Legionella risk manage. to increased biocide treatment. A complete tices Legionella risk management program is dependent hyperchlorination and/or off-line cleaning may be neces- on maintaining a consistent level of performance and sary. are continuously inoculating planktonic bacteria as well as the control of Legionella. Performance-based programs are designed to minimize CWT-FS-033 Rev. ing system cleanliness and enhancing program performance-based cooling water effectiveness.” plication of a customized.

Thus.drewindustrial. a minimum of management programs. rapid ATP method- • A source of Legionella pneumophila ologies and Legionella detection. • Aerosol production • Investment protection programs for proactive equip- • Sufficient organisms to initiate infection ment maintenance. transmission in industrial water systems. including specialized ORP sys- droplets of water contaminated with a virulent strain of tems to accommodate a wide range of applications. For additional information on developing a Best information refer to the OSHA web site at http:// Practices Legionella risk management www. 4 . corrosion and to ensure clean heat transfer surfaces. cluding chlorine. dissemination and CWT-FS-033 Rev. Legionella risk management programs are program is supported by products and programs such as: more intensive than standard performance-based programs and therefore are frequently more aggressive and higher in • A complete selection of oxidizing microbiocides in- cost. eye protection and a NIOSH-approved half-face air-purify- ing respirator equipped with a particulate filter (HEPA) is How can I obtain additional suggested as personal protective equipment.scale.com. location. there must be: • The availability of accurate microbiological monitoring programs ranging from dip slides.osha-slc.gov/dts/osta/otm/otm_iii/otm_iii_7. Our water system.html program for my facility? section 2e. but also emphasizes the need to eliminate mechani- dress conditions that promote Legionella growth within the cal systemic conditions that favor Legionella growth. This comprehen- The Drew Industrial Best Practices Legionella risk manage. However. Industrial’s Best Practices Legionella risk management program? The 5-component Drew Industrial Best Practices Legionella risk management program is designed to minimize specific factors that favor Legionella growth. it is understood • A complete selection of ONGUARD® controllers and that infection has been acquired by inhaling very small monitoring equipment. What safety precautions should be • Effective organic microbiocides specific for biofilm taken in and around cooling towers control such as BIOSPERSE® 254 or BIOSPERSE 255 that are suspected of containing microbiocide. • Susceptible individual • DREW SYSTEMS MANAGER™ program and DREWTRAX® treatment program software and data In cooling towers where aerosols are present. oxidant-resistant corrosion and deposit control pro- It is always prudent to be cautious about Legionella at each gram. sive approach not only addresses chemical treatment and ment program is designed to specifically identify and ad. for infection to occur. Legionella growth sites? • PERFORMAX MILLENNIUM™ high performance. Legionella. bromine and chlorine dioxide-based products. Contact your local Drew Industrial representative or visit What are some of the features of Drew Drew Industrial’s website at www. in all reported cases. control.