Legionnaires' disease outbreak investigation toolbox

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Pre-outbreak planning - training and safety

Individuals taking samples should have received training in risk assessment and control of Legionella.

Sampler training should include:

  • Basic microbiological sampling - aseptic technique
  • Knowledge of the ecology of the organisms and factors affecting its occurrence (see Developing Understanding)
  • Knowledge of risk assessment
  • Labelling and record keeping
  • Legal requirements - continuity of evidence
  • Knowledge of where to sample and correct bottle to use
  • Be well practised in coordination with laboratory
  • If possible, keep a set of sampling equipment and materials ready for outbreak investigations

Safety aspects

  1. Take precautions to minimise exposure
    • Minimise aerosol formation
    • Avoid exposure to aerosols
      • Run taps gently
      • Don't operate sprays and showers
      • Switch off cooling tower circulation etc
  2. In outbreak investigations
    • Sampler should not be in a highly susceptible group (immunosuppression, transplant recipients and heavy smokers)
    • Advise anyone susceptible on site about health awareness
    • Sampler may (very rarely) need to be trained to wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE) - anticipate through risk assessment
  3. General safety
    • Sampler should be trained in safe use of ladders and take appropriate safety precautions
    • If sampling in a home, sampler should wear personal protective equipment to avoid contact with or inhalation of insulation materials