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Since 1977, the diagnostic tools for Legionnaires' disease have been culture and serological investigation. Both methods require considerable time to produce results and have low to reasonable sensitivity. Since the introduction of urinary antigen tests in the mid 1990s, underdiagnosis has diminished and mortality has declined, thanks to early diagnosis. To obtain the most accurate diagnosis, culture, serological investigation, and urinary antigen testing should all be performed. In the last decade, much effort has been directed toward the development of assays detecting Legionella nucleic acid. Thus far, only widely varying results with small patient series have been reported. Furthermore, these assays are labour intensive and complicated. As a result, these assays are not yet suitable for the average medical microbiological laboratory.