As cases of legionella disease increase, decreasing risk in touristic accommodations and hotel water systems is a top priority for keeping all guests safe. Fortunately, nine out of ten legionella cases are fully preventable. Below are a few simple ways to lower the risk of a legionella outbreak at your hotel.
1. Test and validate your hotel’s water management plan
To validate the efficiency of a hotel’s WMP (water management plan), test it regularly. Legionella water management programs are an industry standard for large accommodation buildings in many countries across the globe. Maintenance, service interruptions and renovations can cause especially risky conditions. Regular testing for Legionella is the most effective way to conclude if a water management plan is truly working. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “water sampling is crucial to determining whether the legionella bacteria is present and establishing at what levels.”
2. Request a Legionella test
One Legionella bacteria, the Legionella pneumophila, is the main cause of Legionnaires’ disease. This bacteria species is responsible for 99% of all outbreaks registered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The WHO (World Health Organization) advisors recommend testing for this particular species of the legionella bacteria, “not legionella species, because this genus contains several species that don’t actually cause the illness.” By detecting Legionella pneumophila, large buildings, hotels and water treaters may then respond properly.
3. Rely on culture tests
Culture tests are really the one reliable source of precise quantification of legionella. PCR or Polymerase chain reaction and DFA or direct fluorescent antibody tests don’t discriminate between bacteria that have already been controlled and live legionella and aren’t a true threat to people. Lateral flow antibody “field tests” simply detect one serotype of all possible legionella bacteria and actually have high false-negative results frequently, regularly missing the pathogen completely. Tests need to provide a 100% confirmed culture result for all serogroups of legionella.
4. Ensure results are reproducible and accurate
Routine testing for Legionella is the truly best way to guarantee that water management plans are effective so that immediate action can be taken if necessary. For instance, the Legiolert Test has been shown to provide confirmed results in only 7 days, considerably faster than the ten to fourteen days for regular culture tests. As opposed to traditional plate methods, which usually require subjective counts of colonies on Petri plates, actually the Legiolert Test’s results are 99% reproducible. Consistent data can help hotels and large buildings make vital decisions on potential water quality issues.
5. Select an accredited laboratory
It is absolutely recommended to use a lab with proven proficiency in the subject method, for instance evidenced by certification by a local, regional or national government agency or also by an accredited NGO. Labs that perform legionella testing as well as Legionella risk assessment with a verified method that is part of their accreditation demonstrate that their testing is performed with all guarantees at the highest level of quality.
It is also worthy keeping in mind that accreditation affords an excellent legal protection if testing results happen to come under question. The Environmental Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program is a nationally known accreditation alternative that includes a Legionella pneumophila field of testing.