Our understanding of the Legionella pneumophila bacteria has come a long way since the 1970s, according to Christine McInnis, the Dow Microbial Control Global R&D Platform Leader at the Dow Chemical Company. “In the ’70s, when the first Legionnaires’ outbreak occurred, people had no idea what it was,” she says. Since then, scientists have discovered how the organism grows and reproduces.
But there are many aspects of Legionella that aren’t so certain. “We haven’t learned why certain people get sick, while others exposed to the same source of contamination do not,” says McInnis. It’s also unknown how much of the bacteria you need to be exposed to in order to get sick.
The recent outbreak in New York City has proven that there are dire consequences when companies become complacent in their Legionella mitigation regimens. For McInnis, stopping another Legionnaires’ outbreak is all in a day’s work. “Basically, I try to prevent microbial contamination in industrial water systems,” she says.
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