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J Environ Monit. 2007 Jan;9(1):91-7. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

Detection of airborne Legionella while showering using liquid impingement and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH).

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Département Environnement et Santé Publique, INSERM ERI no 11, Faculté de Médecine, 9 avenue de la Forêt de Haye, BP 184, F-54 505, Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France.


Aerosols of water contaminated with Legionella bacteria constitute the only mode of exposure for humans. However, the prevention strategy against this pathogenic bacteria risk is managed through the survey of water contamination. No relationship linked the Legionella bacteria water concentration and their airborne abundance. Therefore, new approaches in the field of the metrological aspects of Legionella bioaerosols are required. This study was aimed at testing the main principles for bioaerosol collection (solid impaction, liquid impingement and filtration) and the in situ hybridization (FISH) method, both in laboratory and field assays, with the intention of applying such methodologies for airborne Legionella bacteria detection while showering. An aerosolization chamber was developed to generate controlled and reproducible L. pneumophila aerosols. This tool allowed the identification of the liquid impingement method as the most appropriate one for collecting airborne Legionella bacteria. The culturable fraction of airborne L. pneumophila recovered with the liquid impingement principle was 4 and 700 times higher compared to the impaction and filtration techniques, respectively. Moreover, the concentrations of airborne L. pneumophila in the impinger fluid were on average 7.0 x 10(5) FISH-cells m(-3) air with the fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) method versus 9.0 x 10(4) CFU m(-3) air with the culture method. These results, recorded under well-controlled conditions, were confirmed during the field experiments performed on aerosols generated by hot water showers in health institutions. This new approach may provide a more accurate characterization of aerobiocontamination by Legionella bacteria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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