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What is Legionella?

Legionella is a bacteria which can cause a pneumonia-like disease called "Legionnaires' Disease". Legionnaires' Disease is fatal in approximately 15-20% of people infected. Infection occurs when the bacteria is inhaled from aerosols of contaminated water. Aerosols can be produced anywhere water is splashed or sprayed, but some of the most common sources associated with Legionnaires' Disease are cooling towers and showers. The Octo Marine Legionella test detects the antigen of Legionella pneumophila serogroup1 (LpSG1). According to the latest European CDPC report (2011) LpSG1 caused 88% of all cases of Legionnaire’s disease and historically has caused all outbreaks to date.

The genus Legionella is a pathogenic group of gram negative bacteria, that includes the species L. pneumophila, causing Legionellosis including a pneumonia type illness called Legionnaires Disease and a mild flu like illness called Pontiac fever.

Legionella acquired its name after a July 1976 outbreak of a then-unknown "mystery disease" sickened 221 persons, causing 34 deaths. The outbreak was first noticed among people attending a convention of the American Legion—an association of U.S. military veterans. The convention in question occurred in Philadelphia during the U.S. Bicentennial year in July 21–24, 1976. This epidemic among U.S. war veterans, occurring in the same city as—and within days of the 200th anniversary of—the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was widely publicized and caused great concern in the United States.[2] On January 18, 1977, the causative agent was identified as a previously unknown bacterium subsequently named Legionella. See Legionnaires' Disease for full details.