Ten questions concerning the aerosolization and transmission of Legionella in the built environment

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Legionella is a genus of pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria responsible for a serious disease known as legionellosis, which is transmitted via inhalation of this pathogen in aerosol form. There are two forms of legionellosis: Legionnaires' disease, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms, and Pontiac fever, which causes influenza-like symptoms. Legionella can be aerosolized from various water sources in the built environment including showers, faucets, hot tubs/swimming pools, cooling towers, and fountains. Incidence of the disease is higher in the summertime, possibly because of increased use of cooling towers for air conditioning systems and differences in water chemistry when outdoor temperatures are higher. Although there have been decades of research related to Legionella transmission, many knowledge gaps remain. While conventional wisdom suggests that showering is an important source of exposure in buildings, existing measurements do not provide strong support for this idea. There has been limited research on the potential for Legionella transmission through heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Epidemiological data suggest a large proportion of legionellosis cases go unreported, as most people who are infected do not seek medical attention. Additionally, controlled laboratory studies examining water-to-air transfer and source tracking are still needed. Herein, we discuss ten questions that spotlight current knowledge about Legionella transmission in the built environment, engineering controls that might prevent future disease outbreaks, and future research that is needed to advance understanding of transmission and control of legionellosis. (C) 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.



Legionella, Legionellosis, Bioaerosol, Built environment, Source tracking