Legionella Culture Analysis

The GOLD STANDARD of Legionella Detection

Legionella is a genus of potentially pathogenic (Legionnaires’ disease-causing) bacteria that live in environmental water ecosystems, inside of free-living amoebae and within the microscopically diverse water/surface biofilms.  In addition to lakes and streams, these Legionella-containing biofilms can be found in cooling towers, potable water systems and whirlpool spas.  


Legionnaires’ disease is an acute pneumonia caused by inhalation of an aerosol of environmental water containing an infectious dose of L. pneumophila, or less commonly, one of the other Legionella species.  The disease can be fatal if not treated aggressively with the appropriate antibiotics, especially with hospital-acquired disease in immunocompromised patients with underlying health conditions.


The first documented outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was at the 1976 convention of the American Legion, where 221 of the attendees contracted the disease and 34 died. Shortly after this outbreak culture methods were developed to isolate, identify and confirm the presence of Legionella in environmental waters (both natural and manmade) that pose an increased risk to cause disease.


Since that time, traditional culture methods have been the standard method of detection and enumeration of Legionella.   Since 1977, Dr. Miller has been studying Legionella and in 1988 opened a laboratory to provide analytic and detection services to the public.  These methods are still in use today in the vast majority of analyses of water systems around the world.


EST Standard Legionella Culture

Environmental samples are collected as either bulk water samples or swabs taken from areas where water flows. Potable water samples are concentrated by filtration to enhance Legionella recovery; samples are cultured on a selective media with antibiotics.

  • Total viable Legionella count and determination of positive samples as Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, Legionella pneumophila serogroup 2-14, or Legionella non-pneumophila species.
  • All Standard Legionella Culture reports include Ph.D. interpretations and recommendations based on sample type and location.
  • Standard Processing: 7-10 days
  • Rush Processing available: Samples evaluated at 96 hours from receipt in the laboratory

Legionella Culture Analysis

New York State approved Legionella Culture

  • Analysis of Legionella in bulk and surface samples by New York State Department of Health (NYS-DOH) approved ISO 17038 culture for the isolation and confirmation of Legionella bacteria.
  • Analysis includes total viable Legionella count.
  • All Legionella reports include links to NYS-DOH interpretations and recommendations guidelines.
  • Standard Processing: 14 days


Introducing Quantitative Viable

Legionella vPCR

Recognizing the need for faster reliable identification methods for Legionella EST has developed a quantitative viable Legionella vPCR method that is analogous to culture.

AIHA-LAP, LLC Accredited and CDC ELITE Proficient

Environmental Safety Technologies, Inc. (EST) is certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be proficient in performing Legionella analysis by the ELITE (Environmental Legionella Isolation Techniques Evaluation) program.

EST was first awarded an ELITE Certificate of Proficiency during the pilot program in 2009 and has since maintained proficiency. While EST has been accredited by the AIHA-LAP, LLC Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program (AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLAP) since 2007 to perform microbiological testing for bacteria and fungi.

EST is also now one of the few laboratories that have been awarded accreditation by AIHA-LAP, LLC for the newly recognized field of testing specifically for environmental Legionella. These accreditations demonstrate that EST’s laboratory is competent to perform microbial and Legionella testing as proven by proficiency testing and through compliance to ISO 17025:2005 policies and requirements.

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