Researchers at the Technical University of Munich in Germany have created a test to quickly detect Legionella bacteria within 34 minutes, instead of days.
Known to cause deadly pneumonia infections, Legionella multiplies in warm water and can spread through cooling towers, evaporative recooling and hot water systems.
Of all the species of this rod-shaped bacteria, Legionella pneumophila is considered as the most dangerous as it causes 80% of the infections.
The process water of a technical system must be tested to identify the type of bacteria and the approach takes about ten days. The existing rapid test is designed to detect Legionella compounds in a patient’s urine.
Technical University of Munich Chair of Analytical Chemistry and Water Chemistry research group head Dr Michael Seidel said: “Unfortunately, this quick test serves only as a first indication and is not suitable for screening the water of technical systems.”
The researchers have subsequently developed a foil-based measuring chip to identify Legionella pneumophila as well as determine its subtype.
Created under the LegioTyper project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the chip employs GWK firm’s microarray analysis platform MCR and uses 20 different antibodies to deliver a complete analysis in less than 34 minutes.
When used in conjunction with another DNA-based method, the chip can help in monitoring disinfection measures by identifying if the Legionella bacteria were dead or alive.
Seidel added: “Compared to previous measurements, the new method not only provides a huge speed advantage, but is also so cheap that we can use the chip in one-time applications.”