WHAT IS LEGIONELLA PNEUMOPHILA TEST?
A gram-negative, non–acid-fast bacillus that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a form of lobar pneumonia that causes symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, and diffuse alveolar damage. Concomitant symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease may also include cardiac inflammation (endocarditis, pericarditis), pancreatitis, perirectal abscess, peritonitis, pyelonephritis, sinusitis, and wound infection. Two forms of this disease are a mild, self-limiting flulike syndrome of malaise and muscle aches and a more severe form in which pneumonia and septic shock can occur. If untreated, Legionella is fatal in up to 25% of immunocompromised clients. Because of its ability to thrive in water, outbreaks of legionnaires’ disease have been attributed to community water supplies contaminated with Legionella pneumophila. In addition, strains have been found to persist for years in contamination of hospital water supplies. Symptoms develop 2-10 days after exposure to the organism. Clients at highest risk of developing this disease are asphalt workers, those who received cytotoxic chemotherapy or corticosteroids, those with preexisting pulmonary disease, passengers in a vehicle where windscreen wiper fluid does not contain added screenwash, professional drivers who drive through industrial areas, smokers, supermarket-associated mist machine contact, telephone manhole workers, and users of whirlpool spa. This test includes culture and direct fluorescent antibody (FA) smear of a fresh specimen, which may be obtained from a biopsy of the lung, pleural fluid, washings or brushings from the bronchi, transtracheal aspirates, blood, pus, or sputum.