Gas Natural Fenosa Supports research into an automated system to detect Legionella pneumophila in water samples

Legionella pneumophila is the water-borne bacteria that can cause Legionnaires' disease, an illness that appears to be similar to pneumonia, but needs different treatment.  11,305 cases of Legionnaires' disease were recorded in the 27 member states of the EU, Iceland and Norway, 10% of these cases were fatal. 

Diagnostic techniques used in hospitals are specific for Legionnaires caused by bacteria of serogroup 1 but there is a lack of tools to detect bacteria of serotypes 2-16, so it is difficult to diagnose some cases of Legionnaires'. 

The source of infection is frequently a water system.  The effects of an outbreak are much worse if the installation is in a hospital or residence, where more vulnerable people are staying.  The current technology for checking installations has limitations and a system that detects bacteria of all serotype and that is fast, cheap and easy to use is urgently needed.  For this reason the group has worked with other research groups on a project to detect all the serogroups in water installations to avoid infection in the first place. 

Dr Párraga has worked for many years on Legionnaires' disease and since 2013 she has been at the IGTP in the Infectious and Respiratory Disease Research Group (Legionella) led by Dr Miquel Sabrià.   The group has been part of the project that has already produced a patent*, which has been licensed to the company Waterologies, and continues to collaborate on automization of the process.  The next step is to carry out a pilot study on buildings belonging to Gas Natural Fenosa.

Dr Noemí Párraga with Dr Miquel Sabrià

* Porta-filtros integrado y procedimiento de concentración y detección de microorganismos (P201531409): Noemí Párraga Niño (IGTP-CIBER), Miquel Sabrià (UAB-CIBER), Oscar Castillo (CSIC), Naroa Uria (CSIC) y Francesc Xavier Muñoz (CSIC).

Return to the page for the Infectious and Respiratory Disease Research Group (Legionella)

See news about renovation of Gas Natural Fenosa contract (news item in Spanish)