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Legionnaires' Disease on the Rise in the United States

OCT 23, 2017 | KRISTI ROSA
Many of the cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States are being diagnosed by UAT; however, Dr. Cooley explained that further research on the test’s limitations would be a good idea to determine how many cases are being missed because of these limitations.

Although many advancements have been made when it comes to response to the disease, Dr. Cooley stressed the importance of Legionellosis prevention efforts. The CDC, for example, has been promoting tools for effective water management. In addition, the United States Environmental Protection Agency released a review of different technologies that could be used to control Legionella in plumbing systems, while the Veteran’s Health Administration has required prevention activities in their facilities for some time now. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also issued a requirement for water management programs in some health care facilities.

Looking at the subset of outbreaks that occurred last year (2016), Dr. Cooley said, “These outbreaks could be prevented with more effective water management. [Thus,] we spent some time talking about how this requires a multidisciplinary response. It’s public health, it’s clinicians, it’s health care facility leaders, it’s the environmental health team, it’s everyone working together to prevent Legionellosis in health care facilities.”

Legionnaires’ disease is on the rise in the United States. Improved surveillance and testing are needed to improve understanding of disease and outbreak burden,” Dr. Cooley concluded. “It’s important to encourage clinicians to order tests (urinary antigen test and lower respiratory culture), for patients with severe pneumonia or healthcare-associated pneumonia. Improved uptake of water management is critical for controlling disease and healthcare-associated cases are often deadly and prevention in healthcare facilities is key.”

The CDC has several tools available on their website for water system maintenance, which is key to preventing the diseases.
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