Legionella bacteria often become established in manufactured water systems such as cooling towers and hot water systems where warm temperatures, increased nutrients and growth of biofilms in pipework provide an ideal breeding ground.
What is Legionella?
The Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaire’s disease which is a type of pneumonia. Legionella can be transmitted by inhaling contaminated droplets (aerosols) from warm or hot water systems such as showerheads, spas and fountains. These aerosols and splashes can also be ingested from hand washing stations, sinks, toilets and even inhaled by sucking on ice blocks, a technique used to assist in the hydration of elderly patients.
Who can catch it?
Most people are at a low risk of catching the legionnaires disease however people with weak immune systems are much more susceptible (e.g. hospital patients and the elderly). Legionella outbreaks have been reported throughout various major Queensland hospitals and as a result Queensland Health intends to introduce legislation. This will require all hospitals and aged care facilities to conduct quarterly monitoring for legionella with results made public.
Testing requirements by Queensland Health and how Symbio Laboratories can assist
Queensland Health requires laboratories to be NATA accredited for the analysis of legionella according to AS/NZS 3896:1998.
Symbio Laboratories not only holds this accreditation, but is also NATA accredited for the analysis of Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC), a measure of total bacterial numbers that provides an indication on the efficiency of the disinfection system.
If required, Symbio can provide NATA accredited field technicians who are experienced in collecting samples from hospitals and aged care facilities as well as conducting field tests such as chlorine, turbidity and temperature.
Symbio assists hospitals and aged care staff who collect their own samples. Upon request, we deliver sample bottles, eskies, ice bricks, analysis request forms and freight consignment notes free of charge to ensure samples are returned to our laboratory within the allocated holding time for sample analysis.