Current and emerging Legionella diagnostics for laboratory and outbreak investigations.
Clin Microbiol Rev. 2015 Jan;28(1):95-133.
Mercante JW1, Winchell JM2.
1Pneumonia Response and Surveillance Laboratory, Respiratory Diseases Branch, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
2Pneumonia Response and Surveillance Laboratory, Respiratory Diseases Branch, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legionnaires’ disease (LD) is an often severe and potentially fatal form of bacterial pneumonia caused by an extensive list of Legionella species. These ubiquitous freshwater and soil inhabitants cause human respiratory disease when amplified in man-made water or cooling systems and their aerosols expose a susceptible population. Treatment of sporadic cases and rapid control of LD outbreaks benefit from swift diagnosis in concert with discriminatory bacterial typing for immediate epidemiological responses. Traditional culture and serology were instrumental in describing disease incidence early in its history; currently, diagnosis of LD relies almost solely on the urinary antigen test, which captures only the dominant species and serogroup, Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 (Lp1). This has created a diagnostic “blind spot” for LD caused by non-Lp1 strains. This review focuses on historic, current, and emerging technologies that hold promise for increasing LD diagnostic efficiency and detection rates as part of a coherent testing regimen. The importance of cooperation between epidemiologists and laboratorians for a rapid outbreak response is also illustrated in field investigations conducted by the CDC with state and local authorities. Finally, challenges facing health care professionals, building managers, and the public health community in combating LD are highlighted, and potential solutions are discussed.