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Health aspects of Legionella in water

Gezondheidsaspecten van Legionella in water


Legionella pneumophila is a cause of severe pneumonia in humans. Legionella bacteria are found in all freshwater environments. Particularly in artificial environments people may be exposed to Legionella containing aerosols. In this brief overview of the state of the art of Legionella research it is shown that, although many research groups study Legionella, many questions on this complex pathogen remain to be answered. Because complete elimination of Legionella from all water systems is impossible, public health protection should be aimed at minimising the risk of contamination by taking adequate preventive measures. However, this requires insight into factors that result in the formation of biofilms and that enable Legionella to colonise water systems and multiply on biofilms. The presence of Legionella in a water system is known to not always result in illness of exposed persons; therefore it is important to unravel the public health significance of the detection of Legionella in a water system. This requires optimisation of the detection method for Legionella in water, which lacks sensitivity and specificity, and comparison of Legionella isolates from patients and water. Additional research is clearly indispensable in building a solid foundation for current and future legislation.

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