Reliable Results

Special Pathogens Laboratory offers healthcare, hospitality, water treatment industries and other commercial and industrial sectors reliable high-quality microbiology services. Our established reputation as Legionella reference laboratory provides the highest level of expertise. SPL's team of microbiologists who are on the forefront of Legionella research, possess specialized knowledge required for Legionella detection.

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Our testing protocol is the only method validated in prospective studies that correlates disease risk with Legionella culture results and the extent of environmental contamination. SPL is the first and one of the few labs in the US to be accredited by the A2LA for Legionella testing.

Role of Environmental Surveillance in Determining the Risk of Hospital-Acquired Legionellosis: A National Surveillance Study With Clinical Correlations.  Stout et al. Infection Control Hospital Epidemiology 2007; 28:818-824.

Pathogen Testing

Legionella culture is considered the gold standard for Legionella testing. It is the only test that identifies Legionella species and serogroups. Measure of Uncertainty available upon request. 

Legionella DFA
The fluorescent assay or the fluorescent antibody test is a rapid microscopic procedure used to identify Legionella pneumophila or other Legionella species in smears prepared from isolates obtained from culture. It is the definitive method for Legionella identification.

Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC) can be used to: 1) monitor changes in the bacteriological quality of finished water throughout a distribution system, thus giving an indication of the effectiveness of chlorination or other disinfection in the system and 2) to evaluate the effectiveness of biocides in cooling water systems.  HPC cannot predict the presence or absence of Legionella. Measure of Uncertainty available upon request.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is commonly associated with hospital-acquired infection, most notably in immunocompromised individuals.  This opportunistic pathogen accounts for 10% of all hospital-acquired infections and is the second most frequently recovered pathogen from intensive care units. Measure of Uncertainty available upon request.

Acinetobacter is a group of bacteria generally considered nonpathogenic to healthy individuals. However, at least 23 species have been associated with human disease. The settings for infection are usually medical or surgical intensive care units involving patients with pre-existing conditions.

Stenotrophomonas is of most concern in the hospital setting. Contaminated water can transmit the organism through indwelling catheters and respiratory therapy equipment to susceptible patients causing infection. Stenotrophomonas infection in intensive care unit (ICU) patients has been identified as an independent risk factor for mortality.

Envrionmental Mycobacterium Nontuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM) inhaled can cause serious respiratory damage to those who are vulnerable due to compromised immune system, previous lung infections or have genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis and COPD. Mycobacteria NTM infections are treated with antibiotics.

Waterborne Pathogens Panel is designed for use in healthcare facilities to evaluate the potential for exposure to four waterborne pathogens: Legionella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Acinetobacter species.

Coliforms (E. coli and Total)  bacteria are organisms that are present in the environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans. They are often used as indicator organisms to test for contamination of potable and recreational water sources.

Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC) refers to corrosion caused by the presence and activities of microorganisms in biofilms on the surface of pure metals or metal containing materials causing corrosion and damage: Acid Producing Bacteria, Iron Related Bacteria, Slime Forming Bacteria, and Sulfate Reducing Bacteria

Molecular Typing (PFGE)
It can be important to determine the DNA type of the bacteria causing illness. Using PFGE, the organism’s DNA is digested and separated to produce a banding pattern of DNA fragments. This pattern is known as the genetic fingerprint. The “fingerprint” of the bacteria from the patient is compared to the “fingerprint” of the bacteria from the environment. If they match, the results support a link between the environmental source and the patient. 

Copper-silver analysis.  Copper-silver ionization is a disinfection method that is used to eradicate Legionella from hot water recirculating systems. Disinfection with ionization occurs when the positively charged copper and silver ions released from the ionization system bind to the negatively charged cell wall of Legionella causing cell death.