Prospective 3-year surveillance for nosocomial and environmental Legionella pneumophila: implications for infection control

Stefania Boccia, Patrizia Laurenti, Umberto Moscato, Gianluigi Quaranta, Giovanni Fadda, Walter Ricciardi, Gennaro Capalbo, Andrea Cambieri, Federica Boninti, Giovanna Branca, P. Borella, V. Romano Spica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To perform a 3-year, prospective surveillance program for legionnaires disease (LD) in a large university hospital in Rome, and to assess the usefulness of the hospital water monitoring program in predicting the risk of nosocomial LD. METHODS: Samples from patients with new cases of nosocomial pneumonia were sent for legionella laboratory investigations. Meanwhile, water samples for bacteriological analysis were collected every 6 months from high- and medium-risk hospital wards (10 in total). Legionella pneumophila isolates collected were serotyped and analyzed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. RESULTS: From June 2001 through May 2004, the pneumonia surveillance identified one case of nosocomial LD among 43 cases of nosocomial pneumonia (2.3%). Environmental investigations detected L. pneumophila in 12 (18.7%) of the 64 water samples, of which 50% belonged to serogroup 1. The L. pneumophila count and the percentage of positive locations never exceeded 10(2) colony-forming units/L and 20%, respectively, except when the LD nosocomial case occurred (positive water samples, 40%; L. pneumophila count, <10(2) colony-forming units/L). Genotyping showed 3 prevalent clones of L. pneumophila in the water distribution network, of which one persisted over the 3 years. One clone contained 3 different L. pneumophila serogroups (2, 4, and 6). CONCLUSIONS: The low incidence of nosocomial cases of LD appears to be associated with a low percentage (<20%) of positive water samples per semester and with a low contamination level (<10(2) colony-forming units/L). An infection control system for nosocomial LD should, therefore, be based on both environmental and clinical surveillance, together with the appropriate maintenance of the hospital water distribution system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-465
Number of pages7
JournalInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Infection Control
  • monitoring program
  • prospective surveillance program


Dive into the research topics of 'Prospective 3-year surveillance for nosocomial and environmental Legionella pneumophila: implications for infection control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this