Research Article| Volume 70, ISSUE 2, P154-159, October 2008

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Long-term persistence of a single Legionella pneumophila strain possessing the mip gene in a municipal shower despite repeated cycles of chlorination


      The ability of Legionella pneumophila to colonise domestic water systems is a primary cause of outbreaks of Legionnaire's disease in humans. World Health Organization guidelines recommend that drinking water is chlorinated to between 0.2 and 1 mg/L [Chlorine in drinking-water. Guidelines for drinking-water quality, 2nd edn. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1996], but L. pneumophila is repeatedly isolated from chlorinated water systems, indicating that this treatment is not effective at preventing colonisation. Current UK guidelines recommend a one-off treatment of 20–50 mg/L of free chlorine to remove the bacteria. In this study we report on the persistence of L. pneumophila serogroup 1 in a domestic shower system despite repeated cycles of chlorination at 50 mg/L for 1 h exposure time, over the course of two and a half years. Persisting isolates were subjected to in-vitro phenotypic analyses and polymerase chain reaction analysis for the toxin-encoding mip gene. Random amplified polymorphic DNA typing was also performed to determine whether the isolates recovered on different occasions were the same strain. We found that seven isolates of L. pneumophila recovered over a two-and-a-half year period are the same genetically defined strain, indicating that the bacteria can persist despite repeated cycles of chlorination after each successive isolation.


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