Legionella Analysis

Reduce Your Legionella Risk Exposure with Water System Testing from SGS

Potable and hot water systems can quickly become natural breeding grounds for legionella and other bacteria. SGS offers a wide range of analyses for both proactive and responsive legionella testing. We use the latest PCR method for rapid response and initial screening and follow up with traditional analysis when a positive result is reported.

Download our Legionella Fact Sheet [PDF]

About Legionella

Legionella is a bacterium that naturally occurs in freshwater environments worldwide, including streams, lakes, and mud. Legionella also can colonize human-made water systems like cooling towers, building water systems, evaporative condensers, and recreational structures such as jacuzzies and fountains. Incidences of legionella are increasingly being reported from human-made water structures and environments as testing becomes more refined.

Legionella pneumophila is the causative agent of legionellosis, which includes Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever. Legionnaires’ disease is characterized by pneumonia, while Pontiac fever is characterized by a less severe influenza-like illness. Legionellosis is acquired when water containing legionella becomes aerosolized and is inhaled.

There are at least 50 species and 70 serogroups of legionella identified to date. Identification of legionella to species and serogroup differs from typical bacterial identification, requiring specialized media, culture conditions, and identification techniques.

What Kind of Testing Should You Do?

SGS can analyze your samples for the presence of legionella, using several methods developed by the laboratory:

Traditional analysis (Gold Standard)

  • Takes 7 to 14 days for positive identification.
  • Involves isolating the bacteria on specialized media and confirming utilizing the latex agglutination method.
  • This process isolates and identifies only viable legionella and can identify legionella pneumophilia serogroups 1 and 2-14.

Molecular analysis (PCR)

  • Can be reported in as little as 24 hours.
  • Quantifies all legionella in a sample, both viable and non-viable.
  • Serogroups are not identified.
  • Results for legionella species identification can be obtained quickly, allowing faster reaction time.

Veriflow® legionella

  • A molecular-based assay to detect presumptive legionella in water and environmental swab samples.
  • Identification of legionella cells in lab takes under four hours.
  • Can accurately determine whether cells are alive or dead which reduces false positives.
  • Faster and less expensive than traditional method.
  • Combining both methods may be the ultimate solution.

Sampling Kits and Bottles  

Potable Waters

  • Bottle Size: 1-liter bottle
  • Sampling Locations: Municipal waters (hot water tanks) – hoses – well water – faucets – water fountains – sinks – respiratory therapy equipment – showers – bottle water or cooler water systems – eye washers

Non-potable Waters

  • Bottle Size: 250 ml
  • Sampling Locations: Cooling towers – humidifiers – decorative fountains – HVAC systems – fire sprinkler systems – storage tanks – basin water – hot tubs – surface water from reservoirs – misters


  • Sterile swab
  • Sampling Locations: Faucet aerators – condensate pan – shower heads – condenser coils


  • Legionella – Traditional Culture (CDC Method) Reporting Limit 1cfu
  • Legionella – Traditional Culture (ISO Method) Reporting Limit 1 cfu


Contact Us

We’re your full-service one-stop-shop for legionella and all your microbiology analysis needs. To answer your questions or to order, contact our award-winning Client Service Representatives are ready to answer your questions and take your order in these convenient ways:

   Call toll-free at +1 800 827 3274

   Email at ehs.clientcare@sgs.com

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