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.
- FIELD GEL-ELECTROPHORESIS
- HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED PNEUMONIA
- Infection Control
- monitoring program
- prospective surveillance program