Sílvia Cervero-Aragó wins Forum Water Hygiene Award
The Forum Water Hygiene awards the Science Prize 2018/19 for our latest work on the relevance of VBNC (viable but nonculturable) Legionella, which was recently published in the number 1 journal in the water sector "Water Research".
The Water Hygiene Forum is a non-profit association founded in 2015 to promote and disseminate water hygiene technologies in buildings. Dr. Sílvia Cervero-Aragó was awarded the Science Prize 2018/2019 at the 2nd Forum Wasserhygiene Congress on October 23, 2019. She was awarded for our latest work on the relevance of VBNC (viable but nonculturable) Legionella*, recently published in the number 1 journal in the water sector "Water Research". The work was carried out under the direction of Prof. Alexander Kirschner, head of the research group Water Microbiology of our Institute and Prof. Julia Walochnik, head of research group Molecular Parasitology at the Institute of Specific Prophylaxis and Tropical Medicine, as part of an FWF project.
The proud winner with the two project leaders.
Legionella is the cause of Legionnaire's disease, one of the most common water-borne infectious diseases in industrialized countries. Legionella are usually quantified using cultivation methods in water samples, but many recent studies have shown that the number of living, non-culturable (VBNC) Legionella cells in water distribution systems can be many times higher than the number of cultivable Legionella cells.
In our study we were able to show for the first time that Legionella - when thermally treated with common temperatures (55°C, 60°C, 70°C) in water distribution systems in buildings - can to a considerable extent enter the VBNC state and maintain their viability over a longer period of time, and that these VBNC Legionella are able to infect amoebae and macrophages. However, this happens with significantly lower efficiency (longer infection time, higher infection dose) than with cultivable cells.
The findings of this study are highly relevant for the management of water distribution systems in buildings and for the assessment of the risk of VBNC Legionella for human health.
*Cervero-Arago S, Schrammel B, Dietersdorfer E, Sommer R, Lück C, Walochnik J, Kirschner AKT (2019) Viability and infectivity of viable but nonculturable Legionella pneumophila strains induced at high temperatures. Water Research 158 (2019) 268-279
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