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March 8, 1985

Potable Water as a Source of Legionnaires' Disease

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Bacterial Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta (Drs Shands, Ho, and Fraser, Mr Gorman, and Mr Mallison); and the Infectious Disease Section, Medical and Research Services, Wadsworth Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Department of Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles (Drs Meyer, Edelstein, and Finegold).

JAMA. 1985;253(10):1412-1416. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350340064018

A three-year epidemic of legionnaires' disease in a hospital was dramatically curtailed following hyperchlorination of the potable water supply. The hypothesis that potable water was the source for the outbreak was further supported by isolation of Legionella pneumophila (the agent of legionnaires' disease) from the hospital water supply, observation that a sudden upsurge had occurred in the number of cases following a peculiar manipulation of the hospital water system, and documentation of a 30-fold increase in concentration of organisms in the water when this manipulation was artificially recreated. Thus, potable water may be an important source of epidemic legionnaires' disease and continuous hyperchlorination a method of control.

(JAMA 1985;253:1412-1416)