Recent Legionella News

Legionella, the leading cause of water-related disease outbreaks, has been the subject of numerous studies and reports as water and public health professionals try to understand and manage the public health impacts.  Although not wholly drinking water related, two recent reports may be of interest to state drinking water program staff.

The CDC has recently published results of a study examining the presence of Legionella in cooling towers.  Researchers found DNA evidence of Legionella in 74% of the towers they sampled, spread geographically across the US.  They were able to culture Legionella in 47% of those.  On a more localized scale, the Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease has reported on the high incidence of Legionnaires’ disease in New York and New York City.  This group maintains that addressing the whole distribution system, not just building plumbing, is necessary before we can adequately address Legionella and reduce the incidence of disease.  Obviously, this envisions a much broader scope of actions to combat Legionella than may currently be practiced.  This would draw water systems and states deeper into prevention and response activities.

The debate about the best approach for addressing Legionella will continue and ASDWA plans to be active in these issues in the coming year.