From Watersheds to Shower Heads: A Workshop on Legionella Research and Policy

Colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) with moderately-high magnification of 5000X, depicting a large grouping of Gram-negative Legionella pneumophila bacteria. Photo credit: Janice Haney Carr
Colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) with moderately-high magnification of 5000X, depicting a large grouping of Gram-negative Legionella pneumophila bacteria. Photo credit: Janice Haney Carr

Legionellosis has emerged as a major public health threat related to the built environment, and outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in New York City and Flint, Michigan in 2015 have drawn increased attention to the problem. Cases reported to CDC have increased more than four-fold since 2000 with over 5000 cases reported in 2015; almost all cases have resulted in hospitalization with death in about 10% of cases. Legionellosis, including Legionnaires’ disease, is caused primarily by contamination of water in premise plumbing in the built environment. Little research has been conducted, and public health prevention policies are not always in accord with one another.

Thanks to support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, over 50 top Legionella experts nationally and globally from environmental health, water science and engineering, microbiology, and public health will convene on May 25-26, 2016 in Atlanta, GA. These experts come from academia, industry, and government at the local, state, and federal levels.  Led by Emory University’s Dr. Ruth Berkelman and the Emory Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research (CPHPR), the goal of the workshop is to assess the state of the art with regards to the basic and applied knowledge related to control of Legionella. The workshop will define research and policy gaps in order to garner increased federal and other support for efforts related to Legionella control and prevention.

In addition to Dr. Berkelman, the workshop planning committee includes: Dr. Robert Fitzhenry (NYC Department of Hygiene and Mental Health), Dr. Shantini Gamage (Veterans’ Health Administration), Dr. Michael Osterholm (University of Minnesota), Dr. Amy Pruden (Virginia Tech) and Dr. Gary Roselle (Veterans’ Health Administration). Workshop discussion topics include Diagnostic Testing and Surveillance, Water Security and Conservation, Environmental Monitoring & Testing, and Engineering and Infrastructure Controls.

Attendance is by invitation; due to high interest, the workshop proceedings will be video-recorded. Following the workshop, a link to the video will be made available on microBEnet (www.microbe.net) as well as through the Emory CPHPR website and the CIDRAP website at the University of Minnesota.  There will also be a workshop summary available.

With Legionella becoming an increasingly important public health threat, this conference will both highlight the complex interplay between this bacteria and the built environment and elucidate the knowledge gaps and research needs associated with combatting this dangerous pathogen.

2 thoughts on “From Watersheds to Shower Heads: A Workshop on Legionella Research and Policy

  1. I would like to obtain a copy of the video of this workshop. Please advise how I can do so. Thanks. Leslie

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