Legionella spp. – Water
|Test Requested||Required Requisition(s)||Specimen Type||Minimum Volume||Collection Kit|
Water – potable (drinking water) or non-potable (e.g. whirlpools, cooling towers, etc.)
Potable: 5 X 200 mL (to the fill line on the bottle)
Non-potable Water: 200 mL (to the fill line on the bottle)
PHOL water collection bottle kits (Cat# 300013)
Submission and Collection Notes
Water samples are not routinely tested for Legionella spp. This test is available for investigations and/or outbreaks with a culture confirmed clinical case(s) of Legionella spp.. Record ‘Legionella’, on the line for ‘Test for Etiological Agent’. The laboratory should be contacted prior to submission of samples.
Preparation Prior to Transport
Collect the water sample in PHOL water collection bottles. For potable water, collect one litre of water. Five standard PHOL water collection bottles filled to the fill line will satisfy this requirement. For non- potable waters, a single bottle of 200mL is sufficient. Samples should be stored at refrigeration temperature (2 to 8°C) and shipped to the laboratory as soon as possible.
For sampling, follow the instructions found in Public Health Inspector’s Guide to Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Testing.
- Ship all foods in containers with hard walls and lids secured in the closed position.
- Shipping containers must be labelled with the submitting organization, unique identifier and contents e.g. FOOD SAMPLES on the outside of the container.
- DO NOT SHIP WITH CLINICAL SPECIMENS. Shipping containers used for food samples should be dedicated to food samples and not be used for other types of environmental samples.
- Ship dry foods and other shelf stable foods at ambient temperature in a closed container.
- Ship frozen foods in an insulated container with sufficient ice packs to maintain the frozen state.
- Ship perishable foods in an insulated container with sufficient cold packs to maintain a temperature as close to 4°C as possible. If ice is used, contain the ice in a manner that does not allow water contact with the samples.
- Submit all food samples to the laboratory as soon as possible.
Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)
The Legionella test is performed Monday to Friday.
Turnaround time is up to 14 days.
Results are reported to the submitting health unit as indicated on the requisition, when all analyses are completed.
Environmental samples that show the presence of bacteria capable of causing illness are reported to the Medical Officer of Health as per the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act.
The presence of Legionella spp. in water is determined by the culture method by isolation of the filtrate on selective agar plates, followed by biochemical and serological identification. Results are reported as Detected with the specific Legionella spp. or Not detected. (Public Health Ontario Laboratory Method)
Legionella is ubiquitous to the environment – water, soil and sediment; and can grow in a wide range of temperatures.
If Legionella was isolated from an environmental sampling site in connection to an outbreak investigation and is a match to the clinical case, remediation is required and consultation with PHO Laboratory microbiologist is recommended.
If Legionella was isolated and is not a match to the clinical case, remediation may be required and PHO Laboratory microbiologist is available for consultation.