Raising Awareness of Legionella Presence in our Local Communities

Current Topics in Microbiology
Oral Presentation

Prepared by K. Strothman
Sanders Laboratories, 10090 Bavaria Road, Fort Myers, FL, 33913, United States

Contact Information: katie@sanderslabs.net; 941-915-7447


What you don’t know can hurt you, especially when it comes to harmful water microbes in your home’s water. Legionella pneumophila is a harmful water bacterium that is the primary cause of Legionnaires’ disease, an acute, often deadly form of pneumonia that can leave permanent symptoms. Thousands of people are affected each year, and many of these victims are from our most vulnerable populations: the elderly and the immunocompromised. The ruthless nature of Legionella is why one in ten people who contract Legionnaires’ disease will die.
As a commercial laboratory, Sanders Laboratories became certified to test for Legionella bacteria in water samples, thinking hospitals and nursing homes would be our biggest clientele. What we found is that individual homeowners also have a real need for protection from Legionnaires’ disease. Sadly, people are getting sick from the water in their homes right here in Florida, right in our own backyard..
Most residents do not realize how close to home this danger is lurking. After testing 169 houses in Lee and Sarasota counties, we found 45 of them were contaminated with Legionella pneumophila. We found this deadly bacterium multiple times in sink spray faucets, spas/hot tubs, and outdoor/ indoor showers.
Regretfully, even though this is one of the deadliest waterborne diseases, Legionnaires’ disease is not very regulated, and routine testing is not required in most places, leaving a gap in protection. This gap leaves it to homeowners or their loved ones to try to diagnosis and fix issues caused by Legionella pneumophila. As a laboratory, we want to provide more education and help our community find solutions. Our people are hurting. Please talk to us, your local public health laboratory, or your local environmental testing laboratory about testing for Legionella pneumophila in your home.