Hospital-acquired legionellosis originating from a cooling tower during a period of thermal inversion.

Abstract

A case of hospital-acquired legionellosis occurred in a 75-year-old male patient who underwent surgery due to malignant melanoma. Legionellosis was proven by culture of Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid. Being a chronic smoker the patient used to visit the sickroom balcony that was located about 90 m to the west of a hospital cooling tower. Routine cooling tower water samples drawn during the presumed incubation period revealed 1.0x10(4) CFU/100 ml (L. pneumophila serogroup 1). One of three isolates from the cooling tower water matched the patient's isolate by monoclonal antibody (mab)- and genotyping (sequence-based typing). Horizontal transport of cooling tower aerosols probably was favoured by meteorological conditions with thermal inversion. The case report stresses the importance of routine maintenance and microbiological control of hospital cooling towers.

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