Environmental investigation of a legionellosis outbreak in western Sydney: the role of molecular profiling

Timothy C. Heath, Christine Roberts, Bin Jalaludin, Ian Goldthorpe, Anthony G. Capon

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4 Citations (Scopus)


This investigation used DNA profiling in an attempt to identify the environmental source of a community outbreak or 11 cases of Legionnaires' disease. Nine of these cases were culture positive and a single strain (DNA profile) of Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 was isolated from eight cases. Spot water samples were collected from 51 cooling towers implicated by case exposure histories; this same strain was isolated from four towers at three separate locations up to 6 km apart. None of these locations had been frequently implicated by case histories. Because we did not perform an analytic epidemiological investigation, we were unable to identify a single environmental source for the outbreak. It is also possible that this outbreak was multifocal. The use of molecular profiling should not overshadow the importance of epidemiological methods in these environmental investigations. More data is needed regarding the prevalence, distribution, and clinical significance (virulence) of environmental L. pneumophila strains. This would aid interpretation of molecular profiling used in investigations of community legionellosis outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-431
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

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