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Is there a silent danger in your water system?

Some bacteria such as Legionella, shut down functions when exposed to stressful conditions such as heat shock and superchlorination. Things such as reproduction, are put on hold until overall conditions improve, and the bacteria can resuscitate back to its normal state. When Legionella is in this state, commonly known as Viable but Non-Culturable (VBNC), it cannot grow on conventional culture plates in a laboratory. However, the bacteria are still very dangerous and can cause an infection and lead to outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.

Despite restricted metabolic rates, VBNC cells have been shown to retain pathogenic properties. Research has demonstrated that starved VBNC Legionella cells can infect amoebae, which suggests that amoebae could act as natural replicators of such cells. Furthermore, it has been observed that VBNC bacteria recover their culturability after passage through human lung cells. As a result, as soon as the VBNC bacteria is inhaled by a human, it has the potential to cause infection in the same way as culturable bacteria.

VBNC cells are characterised by a loss of culturability on routine agar, which impairs their detection by conventional plate count techniques. This is a major limitation of culture-based detection methods for L. pneumophila and can result in significant underestimations of total viable cells in environmental or clinical samples – posing a true public health risk and suggesting inefficacy of Legionella control and management outlined in many regulatory guidelines worldwide.

Alternative methods, such as Hydrosense, are able to detect VBNC Legionella bacteria and can be used in addition to lab-culture to support and promote good public health. The Hydrosense rapid Legionella test returns results on-site in only 25 minutes and can be conducted by an any operator. The rapid antigen test empowers duty holders to get actionable information instantly, which facilitates quick remedial action.

For more information visit http://bit.ly/2VQXlyp

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