Of the 485,000 annual cases of pneumonia-like sickness in the USA, approximately 15% are attributed to Legionnaire’s Disease. This typically results in health care costs of over $600 million (1, 2, 3). For the most part, these incidents can be prevented through effective monitoring and treatment. Since Legionella thrive within microbial biofilms and host organisms, an effective way to prevent Legionella growth is to keep the entire microbial population under control. Unfortunately, the options available for rapid and accurate bioburden testing are limited. Heterotrophic Plate Counts and other culture-based tests have traditionally been used to estimate microbiological content, but they require long incubation times and therefore are not always effective as a risk management tool. More importantly, HPCs underestimate the microbial population because they fail to measure several class of microorganism (e.g. protozoa, nitrifying bacteria, SRB, etc.).
In order to provide more accurate results in a much shorter time, LuminUltra Technologies Ltd has developed a portable test kit concept that provides an accurate, reliable, and interference-free measure of total microbial content in water in less than five minutes. This concept is based on the measurement of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) - the primary energy transfer molecule for all living cells on Earth. As such, its measurement is a direct indication of the level of contamination in water and the ideal basis for risk assessment and disinfection program optimization.
While the need to test specifically for Legionella is not eliminated by the use of ATP testing, ATP testing allows immediate and proactive steps to be taken to treat contaminated systems and remove both Legionella and the biofilms/protozoa that support growth. Through a series of case studies, this paper will draw upon real-life situations where ATP monitoring has provided insight into water quality monitoring, risk management and enhanced HACCP strategies.
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