Hospital-Wide Eradication of a Nosocomial Legionella pneumophila Serogroup 1 Outbreak

Background. Two proven nosocomial cases of Legionella pneumonia occurred at the Wesley Hospital (Brisbane, Australia) in May 2013. To trace the epidemiology of these cases, whole genome sequence analysis was performed on Legionella pneumophila isolates from the infected patients, prospective isolates collected from the hospital water distribution system (WDS), and retrospective patient isolates available from the Wesley Hospital and other local hospitals.

Results. The 2011 and 2013 L. pneumophila patient isolates were serogroup 1 and closely related to all 2013 hospital water isolates based on single nucleotide polymorphisms and mobile genetic element profiles, suggesting a single L. pneumophila population as the source of nosocomial infection. The L. pneumophila population has evolved to comprise 3 clonal variants, each associated with different parts of the hospital WDS.

Conclusions. This study provides an exemplar for the use of clinical and genomic epidemiological methods together with a program of rapid, effective remedial biofilm, plumbing and water treatment to characterize and eliminate a L. pneumophila population responsible for nosocomial infections.

Bartley PB, Ben Zakour NL, Stanton-Cook M, Muguli R, Prado L, Garnys V, Taylor K, Barnett TC, Pinna G, Robson J, Paterson DL, Walker MJ, Schembri MA, Beatson SA. Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Oct 13. pii: civ870.

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