Enumeration of Legionella pneumophila in cooling tower water systems
Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires disease, is known to colonise and frequently grow in cooling tower waters. Disease is acquired by inhaling aerosol contaminated by legionellae. Determination of the count of Legionella pneumophila in cooling tower waters may, therefore, be useful for risk assessment. In our survey, 103 water samples from 50 cooling towers were examined over a five-year period to indicate the seasonal distribution and the ecology of L. pneumophila, as regards temperature and pH. L. pneumophila serogroup 1 was found in 44% of the isolated strains, which is primarily responsible for the majority of Legionnaires disease. The large majority of examined towers had levels of L. pneumophila in the high-risk category. These cooling towers have been linked to many outbreaks of Legionnaires disease.