Prevalence of Legionella strains in cooling towers and legionellosis cases in New Zealand.
ABSTRACT Over 3,900 water samples from 688 cooling towers were tested for Legionella in 2008 in New Zealand. Of 80 (2.05% isolation rate) Legionella isolates, 10 (12.5%) were L. pneumophila serogroup 1; 10 (12.5%) were L. anisa; nine (11.2%) were L. pneumophila serogroup 8; and one (1.2%) was L. longbeachae serogroup 2. Forty-one (51.2%) Legionella isolates were L. pneumophila serogroups. Over 3,990 water samples from 606 cooling towers were tested for Legionella in 2009 in New Zealand. Of 51 (1.28% isolation rate) Legionella isolates, 18 (35.3%) were L. pneumophila serogroup 1, and 39 (76.4%) were other L. pneumophila serogroups. L. pneumophila serogroups were significantly associated with legionellosis cases in 2008 and 2009. L. longbeachae serogroups were equally significantly associated with legionellosis cases. This significant association of L. longbeachae with legionellosis particularly of L. longbeachae serogroup 1 is unique in that part of the world. The authors' study also showed that the aqueous environment of the cooling tower is not a natural habitat for pathogenic L. longbeachae. Regular monitoring and maintenance of cooling towers have prevented outbreaks of legionellosis.