Developing a Legionnaires’ Disease Laboratory Response Plan

A Practical Guide for State and Local Public Health Laboratories

Legionnaires’ disease clusters and outbreaks can present unique challenges for state and local public health laboratories. Laboratory staff can increase their preparedness by developing a Legionnaires’ disease Laboratory Response Plan (LDLRP). CDC designed this toolkit to help laboratory staff and leadership prepare an effective response plan.

Image of Worksheet to Identify Buildings at Increased Risk for Legionella Growth and Spread

Use the toolkit’s sample worksheets to prepare a plan for how your laboratory will respond to a Legionnaires’ disease cluster or outbreak.

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CDC welcomes feedback on this toolkit. Email RDB@cdc.gov with your thoughts and suggestions.

Background

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella. When a Legionnaires’ disease cluster or outbreak occurs, state and local public health laboratories play a vital role in the response. The process of culturing and analyzing Legionella environmental samples and clinical specimens can become complex, but the process is often critical to determining where the patient(s) may have been exposed to Legionella.

Scope of the Toolkit

This toolkit aims to provide a roadmap for state and local public health laboratories to prepare in-house work and referral plans ahead of a Legionnaires’ disease investigation.

The toolkit includes:

  • A checklist to help laboratory staff and leadership assess current Legionella testing capacity
  • Templates for identifying response team and determining roles and responsibilities
  • Templates for a plan to test clinical specimens and environmental samples in your laboratory
  • Templates for a plan to refer samples to an outside laboratory
  • A sample LDLRP
  • An example response scenario with a sample workflow and timeline
  • Sample worksheets to document laboratory results
  • Example instructions for specimen storage and shipping

Download Individual Appendices

CDC provides the following resources to assist with the documentation of environmental sample and clinical specimen processing and testing.