Science Daily: DNA testing can rapidly solve Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks

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A DNA test known as polymerase chain reaction or PCR was used by New York City health officials to identify the source of Legionnaires disease within hours of specimen collection. The current identification standard for the Legionella bacteria is to run bacterial cultures or get antibodies that can take several days. A urine protein is also helpful. By identifying another new method for the source of the disease outbreak, response times are much quicker at reducing the spread of the outbreak. New York City has been using PCR for several of their outbreaks and confirmed that a building cooling tower in 2005 was found to be contaminated several days before bacterial culture results were made available. Christopher Boyd, who is leading the efforts in New York, has made tremendous strides in combating Legionnaires disease and hopes other states will adopt the PCR identification method. To read more about the PCR method, click here.

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