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Legionella anisa or Legionella bozemanii? Traditional and molecular techniques as support in the environmental surveillance of a hospital water network.

Understanding the actual distribution of different Legionella species in water networks would help prevent outbreaks. Culture investigations followed by serological agglutination tests, with poly/monovalent antisera, still represent the gold standard for isolation and identification of Legionella strains. However, also MALDI-TOF and mip-gene sequencing are currently used. This study was conducted to genetically correlate strains of Legionella non pneumophila (L-np) isolated during environmental surveillance comparing different molecular techniques. Overall, 346 water samples were collected from the water system of four pavilions located in a hospital of the Apulia Region of Italy. Strains isolated from the samples were then identified by serological tests, MALDI-TOF, and mip-gene sequencing. Overall, 24.9% of water samples were positive for Legionella, among which the majority were Legionella pneumophila (Lpn) 1 (52.3%), followed by Lpn2-15 (20.9%), L-np (17.4%), Lpn1 + Lpn2-15 (7.1%), and L-np + Lpn1 (2.3%). Initially, L-np strains were identified as L. bozemanii by monovalent antiserum, while MALDI-TOF and mip-gene sequencing assigned them to L. anisa. More cold water than hot water samples were contaminated by L. anisa (p < 0.001). PFGE, RAPD, Rep-PCR, and SAU-PCR were performed to correlate L. anisa strains. Eleven out of 14 strains identified in all four pavilions showed 100% of similarity upon PFGE analysis. RAPD, Rep-PCR, and SAU-PCR showed greater discriminative power than PFGE.

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