Control ofLegionella pneumophila in a hospital water system by chlorine dioxide
- Cite this article as:
- Walker, J.T., Mackerness, C.W., Mallon, D. et al. Journal of Industrial Microbiology (1995) 15: 384. doi:10.1007/BF01569995
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Immuno-compromised patients are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires' Disease. After three cases of the disease occurred in a hospital, a continuous dosing regime using chlorine dioxide was initiated to replace chlorination of the water system. This study identified a number of factors which may have resulted in conditions that would encourage the growth of the water-borne pathogenLegionella pneumophila. The residual chlorination was inadequate for microbial control at the taps furthest from the four storage tanks, of which two were found to be in excess for demand. The temperature of the water in the storage tanks was also found to be above 20° C; a temperature that would encourage microbial growth. A back-up calorifier was present and was found to containL. pneumophila, and linseed oil-based sealants that provide nutrients for microbial growth were also prevalent as jointing compounds in the water circult. Although the shower heads were routinely disinfected, a requirement was identified to also disinfect the shower hoses. NoL. pneumophila were recovered from the water system after the chlorine reduced dioxide disinfection trial. Biofilm was also dramatically reduced after disinfection; however, small microcolonies were identified and proved to be metabolically active when tested with a metabolic indicator. Using light and fluorescence microscopy, the pipe samples removed from the water system were rapidly analysed for biofouling, complementing existing microbiological methods.