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Understanding the biofilm ecology of Legionella in drinking water distribution systems

Project Number # 4533-17

Legionella in drinking water systems, the need to improve understanding of pipe biofilm ecology

Project Leader:  Casey Huang

Legionella can cause human respiratory disease, which includes the severe, pneumonia-like form called Legionnaires’ disease (LD), with high mortality rates up to 50% in nosocomial infections.

Multiple outbreaks of the disease caused by L. pneumophila have occurred in Queensland and Australian healthcare facilities, where the infectious source has been traced to persistent biofilms present in drinking water distribution systems (DWDS). These biofilms are likely to favourably support the complex ecology, persistence and increased pathogenicity of waterborne opportunistic pathogens like Legionella.

The project aims to improve the understanding of biofilm ecology of Legionella in DWDS, as well as to determine alternative antimicrobial strategies to remove Legionella from persistent biofilms.

Supervisors: Dr Philip Bond, Dr Karen Weynberg and Dr Jianhua Guo [University of Queensland]

Mentor:  Dr Kathy Cinque [Melbourne Water]

Project Collaborators