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Andy Nutting

December 5, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm MST

Thesis Information

Title: The Presence of Legionellae in Respiratory Devices: Convenience Sampling of Idaho Long Term Care Facilities

Program: Master of Health Science in Health Policy

Advisor: Dr. Kirk Ketelsen, Community and Environmental Health

Committee Members: Dr. Uwe Reischl, Community and Environmental Health and Dr. Lutana Haan, Community and Environmental Health


Legionella is a bacterium found naturally in moist environments. Persons can become infected when they inhale airborne droplets of water containing such bacteria. Legionellosis cases associated with the use of respiratory devices such as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) units, jet nebulizers, portable room humidifiers, and respiratory ventilation equipment have been identified in the context of a Legionellosis outbreak. However, a systematic search for the presence of Legionella bacteria in respiratory devices outside of a Legionellosis outbreak has not been reported. The goal of this study was to carry out such a survey on several respiratory devices in long term care facilities. Twenty-four respiratory devices including 9 CPAP, 4 BIPAPs, 5 oxygen humidifiers, and 6 ventilators were included in this study. A total of 72 sampling swabs were obtained for the testing of Legionella bacteria inside the respiratory devices. Culture and PCR tests for Legionella pneumophila were made in tandem. No legionella pneumophila bacteria were found in any of the respiratory devices sampled. Although there have been reports in the past of potential legionellosis cases associated with the use of respiratory devices, our data suggest that there are probably no legionella bacteria present inside respiratory devices separate from a Legionellosis outbreak.