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Am J Infect Control. 2005 Dec;33(10):606-10.

Abbreviated duration of superheat-and-flush and disinfection of taps for Legionella disinfection: lessons learned from failure.

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Section of Infectious Diseases of the Department of Internal Medicine, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Republic of China.


One medical center in southern Taiwan faced an outbreak of nosocomial Legionnaires' disease; a total of 81 suspected cases were detected during an 8-month period. Baseline environmental surveillance showed that 80% of the distal sites in intensive care units (ICUs) were positive for Legionella pneumophila. Superheat-and-flush was selected for hospital water supply disinfection because it required no special equipment, and it can be initiated expeditiously. We conducted 2 episodes of superheat-and-flush based on the published recommendations from the Department of Health, Taiwan; US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Both flushes failed to control colonization of Legionella in the hospital water supply. The rate of distal sites positive for Legionella in wards and ICUs was 14% and 66%, respectively, 10 days after the second flush. The effect of replacement of faucets and showerheads in ICUs appeared to be insignificant in colonization of Legionella. The application of superheat-and-flush for flush duration of 5 minutes was ineffective. Superheat-and-flush may not be economic for a large medical center because it could be costly and labor intensive.

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