Symbio Laboratories Legionella Seminar

Symbio Laboratories Legionella Seminar

With Legionella detection slowly on the rise and the introduction of new Queensland Government legislation requiring quarterly testing and reporting to be made public, Symbio Laboratories held a seminar aimed at educating facility managers about what Legionella is and how to manage it.

The seminar held at Brisbane Technology Park Convention Centre was attended by almost 60 guests including representatives of many of Queensland’s leading aged care facilities and hospitals.

Guest speakers included Dr Janet Cumming (Director of Water Unit) Queensland Health, Dr Vyt Garnys (Principal Consultant) CETEC, Katherine Taylor (Infection Control Manager) Wesley Hospital and Colin Divola (National Microbiology Manager) Symbio Laboratories.

With the burning question on everyone’s mind, ‘what is the current legislation requirements’ and ‘how can we manage it’, the guest speakers set to work explaining what Legionella is, what it does and the appropriate measures to control it (including how its tested in a laboratory and the time frame around it). Dr Cumming discussed what makes Legionella so difficult to manage especially in healthcare, why we need to manage it better and the approach taken to Legionella management. She also provided an overview of the new national Legionella guidelines and the requirements for water risk management plans under the proposed amendments to the Public Health Act.

Dr. Vyt Garnys proceeded to provide an insight into the identification of sample points, number of samples required per facility, water quality risk management plans, enHealth guidelines and measures for mitigating legionella growth which allowed attendees to gain a better understanding about risk management and the importance of having an action and communication plan.

Katherine Taylor captivated the audience with her firsthand experience dealing with the legionella detection at the Wesley hospital and the steps taken to identify practical implications of legionella control and in-house treatment measures. She raised an important point that UV/filtration and chlorine flush is a preventative measure and is not the stop measure for Legionella. It needs to be consistently monitored.

Colin Divola finished the day by providing information about NATA based analytical testing procedures in a laboratory, analysis time frame (why it takes 7-10 days) and future trends such as new technologies and lower reporting levels.

Main Points Raised

Dr. Janet Cumming advised that:

  • It is the responsibility of the facility Water Management Team to develop Water Quality Risk Management Plan. Fines can be incurred if failure to do so.
  • Legionella sampling should only be undertaken to confirm that control measures are working
  • Confirmed legionella results to be reported within one business day

Dr. Vyt Garnys stated that:

  • Government and Standards controls are being tightened
  • Australia is lagging with technologies
  • Coping with different water qualities presents unique problems i.e. some facilities are using bore water that is over 60oC when it comes out of the ground.
  • Sustainability initiatives such as low water flow and reduced temperatures have led to unintended consequences

Katherine Taylor provided a practical perspective for dealing with legionella control and outlined:

  • The control measures initiated at the Wesley hospital and the difficulty in eradicating legionella
  • The need for plumbing controls to avoid dead legs and low flow areas
  • Testing of ice machines instigated

Colin Divola outlined:

  • The current analysis procedure according to AS/NZS 3896-2008 and the time required to report positives (7-10 days)
  • The method required to reduce the reporting limit rom 10cfu/mL to 1 cfu/100mL ie 1000 times lower
  • Faster techniques such as PCR and MALDI-TOF MS

All in all, this entire seminar proved to be quite informative and a huge success which left a lot to think about for facility managers from both the health and aged care sectors.

From the team at Symbio Laboratories, we would like to thank our guest speakers for taking the time to speak at our seminar.

For further information about how Symbio Laboratories can assist you with your legionella requirements, simply contact us on 1300 703 166 or Click Here.

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