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Legionella in VA Hospital May have Survived Years of Eradication Efforts

EMSL Analytical offers PCR testing services to quickly and accurately identify microbial pathogens.


Cinnaminson, NJ, March 7, 2013

Late last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on the recent Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. According to their report, 29 of the 44 environmental samples they collected at the facility showed growth of Legionella.

The CDC reported, “There was persistence of a highly pathogenic strain of Legionella in the potable water system despite copper-silver ionization and intermittent superheating during the past two years.” The agency went on to state, “The hospital has been undergoing extensive construction. The timing of construction work at the hospital coincides with the outbreak. Construction likely introduced organic matter to the potable water system, increasing consumption of chlorine in the municipal water supply leading to amplification of Legionella[/i"

The same hospital had an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease back in 1982. The CDC investigation found that the strains of [i]Legionella collected during the 1982 outbreak were almost identical to the strains discovered recently.

“The CDC’s findings shed new light on the challenges of Legionella in potable water systems,” reported Charles Li, Ph.D., Director of PCR and DNA Analysis at EMSL Analytical, Inc., a leading microbial pathogen testing laboratory. “Fortunately, there are proactive testing methods that can quickly and accurately identify water systems that have the bacteria to prevent these types of outbreaks.  EMSL offers both traditional culture methods for detecting Legionella as well as rapid PCR testing services that can provide results in hours instead of days. This technique can quickly identify the organism and help stop potential human exposure to this pathogen.” he continued.

A dedicated website with more information about Legionella can be found at EMSL has also sponsored a public outreach video about Legionella that can be viewed at:

To learn more about Legionella or other indoor air quality (IAQ) testing services, please visit, email or call (800) 220-3675.

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of quality environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public.  The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal agencies. 



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