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Procedures for Collecting and Processing Environmental Specimens for Legionella spp.

  1. Collect water (1-liter samples, if possible) in sterile, screw-top bottles.
  2. Collect culture swabs of internal surfaces of faucets, aerators, and shower heads in a sterile, screw-top container (e.g., 50 mL plastic centrifuge tube). Submerge each swab in approximately 5 mL of sample water taken from the same device from which the sample was obtained.
  3. Transport samples and process in a laboratory proficient at culturing water specimens for Legionella spp., as soon as possible after collection.[1]
  4. Test samples for the presence of Legionella spp. by using semiselective culture media using procedures specific to the cultivation and detection of Legionella spp.[2]


  1. Samples may be transported at room temperature but must be protected from temperature extremes. Samples not processed with 24 hours of collection should be refrigerated.
  2. Detection of Legionella spp. antigen by the direct fluorescent antibody technique is not suitable for environmental samples.