Environmental Chemistry: Legionella


The UPHL Environmental Water Microbiology Section is a member of the CDC's ELITE Program.

Legionella can be be difficult to isolate. Several steps are required to culture Legionella from environmental sources. Steps include the concentration of the bacteria, re-suspension, selective pre-treatments, and the use of complex media. Using a suitable isolation protocol is critical for determining whether Legionella is present in a sample.

The ELITE Program provides a way for UPHL to test our Legionella isolation techniques against standardized samples. We receive a panel of lyophilized test samples twice each year. Test samples are divided between Legionella positive or negative and may be mixed with other organisms commonly found in water. The test samples are reconstituted and processed according to our protocols. We report our results directly to the CDC ELITE Program.

Upon successful identification of Legionella from the test samples, we receive a certificate of proficiency and are listed among the other ELITE Members. UPHL has been a member of the ELITE Program since 2010.


  • New Legiolert Method!

    The Legiolert test detects Legionella pneumophila at 1 organism in 100 mL within 7 days. LEARN MORE

  • Legionella Testing at UPHL

    Further information about environmental Legionella testing at the Utah Public Health Laboratory can be found within the Client Services Manual. CLIENT SERVICES MANUAL

  • Legionella Resources from the CDC

    Legionella bacteria can be found throughout the world, mostly in aquatic and moist environments (e.g., lakes, rivers, ground water and soil). Legionella can adversely impact public health. CDC estimates that 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease each year in the U.S. The CDC website contains various materials, guidelines and publications on the subject of Legionella. GO TO RESOURCES