Special Pathogens Laboratory provides a cohesive strategy to detect, control, and remediate Legionella and waterborne pathogens. Implemented by our integrated team from microbiology, engineering, infectious diseases, public health, and communication, we help you keep your water safer through Total Legionella Control, an integrated platform of solutions:

LEGIONELLA AND PATHOGEN TESTING
SPL provides evidence-based methods of testing for LegionellaPseudomonas aeruginosaStenotrophomonas, Mycobacteria, and Coliforms to ensure the most accurate and reliable results for pathogen detection. SPL is one of the few labs accredited for Legionella testing and participates in both PHE and CDC-ELITE proficiency programs.

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CONSULTING AND EDUCATION
SPL’s multidisciplinary team of experts provides unmatched competency in helping institutions respond to Legionella and other waterborne pathogen risk through remediation strategies, outbreak response and prevention programs. 

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ZEROutbreak® PROTECTION PROGRAM
Through our proprietary ZEROutbreak® Protection Program, SPL provides exceeds and meets compliance requirements with the industry standard ASHRAE 188, and is the only validated program by experts with clinical and environmental  experience in preventing outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.

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YOUR REPUTATION AND YOUR WATER
July 1976, a major outbreak of an unknown disease during an American Legion convention at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia resulted in more than 200 Illnesses and 34 deaths. An unknown bacteriumin water named Legionella pneumophila was discovered as the cause, but it was too late. The Bellevue Stratford closed after 72 years of operation.

In the 1980s, groundbreaking research by Drs. Victor Yu and Janet Stout linked Legionella in a hospital drinking water system to disease as the major source for infection. This breakthrough shifted the course of research and water treatment to building water systems. They followed up this discovery with research that set the industry standard for detection, control, remediation, treatment and disease prevention. Drs. Yu and Stout formed Special Pathogens Laboratory to provide Legionella detection and control to prevent future outbreaks and to advance research that protects lives and reputations – to end Legionnaires’ disease.

Our proactive approach that has been proven to prevent illness and save lives. With routine environmental monitoring as the keystone of our program, you can rely on our microbiologists with more than 30 years of experience to provide accurate and reliable test results.

ENSURING YOUR REPUTATION
We are proud of our “Zero-Outbreak” record that does more than just prevent outbreaks and mitigate risk. For health care, hospitality and commercial facilities and other industries, the ultimate risk is to an organization’s reputation. A single case of Legionnaires’ disease or outbreak is all it takes to destroy years of brand equity and confidence. Protecting your water from Legionella contamination can be a critical factor to your future success. Risking your reputation based on claims of speed or less accurate methods of detection is neither good public health policy nor business strategy.

Our ZEROutbreak® Protection Program is a proven solution to prevent outbreaks through science-based testing, remediation and compliance. SPL’s ZEROutbreak™ certificate provides protection through Total Legionella Control.


LEGIONELLA AND PATHOGEN TESTING

SPL provides evidence-based methods of testing for Legionella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Stenotrophomonas Mycobacteria, and Coliforms to ensure the most accurate and reliable results for pathogen detection. SPL is one of the few labs accredited for Legionella testing and participates in both PHE and CDC-ELITE proficiency programs.

Testing Protocols
The keystone for effective Legionella prevention is culturing the water distribution system for the Legionella bacteria before cases occur. SPL participates in both PHE and CDC-ELITE proficiency programs, and its evidence-based standard protocol ensures accuracy in detection, including:

  • Legionella Culture, The Gold Standard
    SPL uses standardized culture methods (ISO & CDC) and new state-of-the-art methodologies to ensure accurate detection and enumeration.
  • Molecular Methods
    Rapid molecular methods such as quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) used to detect DNA of bacteria can provide same day results.  
  • Identification and Specification
    SPL uses a multi-level approach: 1) Latex agglutination (LAT) detects a limited number of Legionella serogroups and species. 2) Direct Fluorescent Antibody (DFA), rapid microscopic procedure to identify Legionella pneumophila and more than 50 species and serogroups of Legionella. 
  • Molecular Typing
    PFGE molecular typing is used for epidemiological investigations in outbreaks to determine the source of infection by comparing the strain of Legionella from a patient to a facility’s water.

Testing Is the Key to Prevention
SPL’s core team of dedicated scientists introduced this proactive approach to controlling Legionella in healthcare facilities in the Allegheny County Legionella prevention guideline, the first ever in the United States. The outcome was a significant reduction in cases of hospital-acquired Legionnaires’ disease. Since then, the Yu-Stout method has been validated in scientific studies and has become a national and global model for prevention adopted by other states, the Veterans Health Administration, and health organizations worldwide.

Knowing if Legionella is in your water and the type of Legionella empowers you to respond, not react. Routine testing helps you determine what, if any, action needs to be taken, establishes a baseline for your water safety plan, and for healthcare facilities determines the right clinical diagnostic test. Knowing what’s in your water helps you avoid emergency measures and protects you from legal liability.

With routine environmental monitoring as the keystone of our prevention program, you can rely on our microbiologists with more than 30 years of experience to provide accurate and reliable test results. 

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Consulting and Education

SPL’s multidisciplinary team of experts provides unmatched competency in helping institutions respond to pathogen risk through remediation strategies, outbreak responseand prevention programs.

It takes a team to prevent Legionnaires’ disease. Special Pathogens Laboratory’s professionals from microbiology, engineering, water treatment, infectious diseases, public health, and communication collaborate with you to deliver a comprehensive solution and corrective actions.

Plan for Prevention
Legionella water safety plans are designed to prevent illness and save lives. With a plan, you avoid emergency clean-up costs, public relations headaches, and legal liability.

Manage Risk
Controlling Legionella requires knowledge of the bacteria in your water system and plumbing design. Our experienced microbiologists, professional engineers, and water technologist provide an effective risk management program customized to meet your needs. 

Knowledge Transfer
Understanding Legionella empowers you to make the best choice for effective detection, control and prevention at your facility. Sharing our Legionella expertise with your team helps you build a program to prevent outbreaks.

Proactive Model For Prevention
Legionella and other waterborne pathogens cause approximately 25% of all healthcare-associated infections. Preventing such outbreaks is possible with the SPL proactive approach – the gold standard for assessment of outbreak risk.

  1. Test Proactively.  Routine environmental testing before cases occur gives you: 1) a baseline for normal 2) tells you what type of Legionella is in your water so the right diagnostic test is given to the patient 3) monitors your secondary treatment program 4) validates your water safety management plan. 
     
  2. Assess Legionella colonization.  Testing a representation of distal sites in your facility gives you an indication of risk not the level of CFUs. If a small percentage of sites indicate the presence of Legionella, even if it is Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, there isn’t usually a higher risk of an outbreak. However, when the number of test sites approaches 30% a facility becomes at high risk for an LD outbreak and needs to heighten both clinical and environmental surveillance.
     
  3. Act. Implement control and prevention strategies when your facility is at risk from the presence of Legionella. While there are more than 50 species, the most pathogenic is Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, which is the most common cause of Legionnaires’ disease. 


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ZEROutbreak® PROTECTION PROGRAM

Through our proprietary ZEROutbreak® Protection Program, SPL exceeds compliance with ASHRAE Standard 188  and is the only program designed by experts with clinical and envrionmental experience in preventing outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.

Special Pathogens Laboratory’s (SPL) ZEROutbreak® Protection program is the only validated approach of proven success in outbreak prevention.  ZEROutbreak meets and exceeds compliance with the ASHRAE Standard 188 to assist you in achieving ZERO outbreaks of Legionnaires' diseae.

ZERO Essentials
ZERO Essentials gives you the foundation for Legionella control and compliance. Using SPL resources, you can meet the requirements for standards and guidelines. SPL will assure you completed the steps.

ZERO Plus
Many people don’t have the time or expertise to fully comply with guidelines and standards. SPL will do most of the work for you to bring you close to ZERO.

ZERO Complete
There’s more to preventing Legionnaires’ disease than complying with guidelines and standards. ZERO Complete gives you a full-service, customized and validated program designed to ensure that you meet the ZEROutbreak™ Protection Program standard.

 Download ZEROutbreak® Protection Program flyer (PDF) 

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