Speed when it counts - Legionella by PCR
Jun 4, 2019
Suspected Legionella is typically analysed using a standard culture method that ordinarily takes twelve days, although ALS have managed to reduce this to ten days by using our advanced MALDI-ToF confirmation method. In matters of immediate risk to public health, where rapid detection is important in preventing infection, ten to twelve days can be a very long time. For this reason, ALS offer rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Legionella analysis alongside standard culture.
PCR analysis for Legionella provides a Genomic Unit (GU) count (not Colony Forming Units) in under twenty-four hours, ten times faster than our standard culture method. There are benefits to this method other than saving time, including the assessment of ‘viable but nonculturable’ bacteria (VBNC) – bacteria trapped in biofilms (a matrix of protective secretions) or even contained within amoebae. Traditional culture methods cannot detect these trapped VBNC bacteria and the method itself can sometimes induce a VBNC state. PCR analysis, however, is able detect these ‘trapped’ bacteria.
Once we have confirmed the presence of Legionella by PCR we are able to further refine our analysis and provide species identification using our MALDI-ToF technique.