Original Research

Detection of amoeba-associated Legionella pneumophila in hospital water networks of Johannesburg

P. Muchesa, M. Lelfels, L. Jurzik, T. G. Barnard, C. Bartle
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 33, No 3 | a8 | | © 2019 P. Muchesa, M. Lelfels, L. Jurzik, T. G. Barnard, C. Bartle | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 May 2019 | Published: 30 September 2018

About the author(s)

P. Muchesa, Water and Health Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein, South Africa
M. Lelfels, Department of Hygiene, Social and Environmental Medicine, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
L. Jurzik, Department of Hygiene, Social and Environmental Medicine, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
T. G. Barnard, Water and Health Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein, South Africa
C. Bartle, Water and Health Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein, South Africa

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Abstract

The prevalence of free-living amoeba and associated Legionella spp. in hospital water systems may pose a risk of Legionnaires’ disease to immuno-compromised patients. This study investigated the occurrence of amoeba-associated Legionella pneumophila in three South African hospital water systems. A total of 98 water and/or biofilm samples were collected from the sterilisation unit, theatres, neonatal ward and intensive care units. Amoebae were isolated from 71 (72.4%) samples. Isolated amoebae were analysed using qPCR and culture methods to test for the presence of Legionella. L. pneumophila did not grow on selective media in any of the samples. A total of 7 out of the 71 (9.9%) amoeba-positive samples showed a positive reaction for L. pneumophila using qPCR. Although relatively few samples were positive for Legionella in this preliminary study, the association with amoeba still presents a potential public health risk to immuno-compromised patients when exposed to contaminated water.

Keywords

amoeba; Legionella pneumophila; Legionnaires disease

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