Rapid quantification of viableLegionellain nuclear cooling tower waters using filter cultivation, fluorescentin situhybridization and solid-phase cytometry

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Abstract

Aims:

To develop a rapid and sensitive method to quantify viable Legionella spp. in cooling tower water samples.

Methods and Results:

A rapid, culture-based method capable of quantifying as few as 600 Legionella microcolonies per litre within 2 days in industrial waters was developed. The method combines a short cultivation step of microcolonies on GVPC agar plate, specific detection of Legionella cells by a fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) approach, and a sensitive enumeration using a solid-phase cytometer. Following optimization of the cultivation conditions, the qualitative and quantitative performance of the method was assessed and the method was applied to 262 nuclear power plant cooling water samples.

Conclusions:

The performance of this method was in accordance with the culture method (NF-T 90-431) for Legionella enumeration.

Significance and Impact of the Study:

The rapid detection of viable Legionella in water is a major concern to the effective monitoring of this pathogenic bacterium in the main water sources involved in the transmission of legionellosis infection (Legionnaires' disease). The new method proposed here appears to be a robust, efficient and innovative means for rapidly quantifying cultivable Legionella in cooling tower water samples within 48 h.

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