An epidemiological link was found between contamination of a hospital water-supply by Legionella pneumophila and by Pittsburgh pneumonia agent (PPA) and subsequent cases of nosocomial legionnaires' disease and Pittsburgh pneumonia. The extent of L pneumophila isolation from the water-supply paralleled the occurrence of disease. Whenever L pneumophila was isolated from more than 30% of ten selected water sites, nosocomial legionellosis occurred. The temperature of the hot water tanks was raised to 60-77°C for 72 h, and water outlets were flushed for 30 min with hot water. A decline in numbers of L pneumophila and PPA in the water-supply was followed by a fall in the incidence of legionnaires' disease and Pittsburgh pneumonia. In addition, intermittent raising of the temperature in the hot water system decreased both the number of months in which disease occurred and the proportion of nosocomial pneumonias caused by these organisms.
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