An Unlikely Source of Legionella Infection

05/22/2014 |

Legionella  can survive in windshield wiper fluid.

A recent study has revealed that the bacteria Legionella, commonly found in fresh water, is able to survive in certain automobile windshield washer fluids and can grow in washer fluid reservoirs, potentially exposing people to the bacteria.

Researchers from Arizona State University examined windshield washer fluid from Arizona school buses, revealing frequent contamination with high levels of Legionella and demonstrating that washer fluid spray can release potentially dangerous numbers of these bacteria into the air.  These results suggest that automobiles may serve as a source of transmission for Legionella infections.

Although windshield washer fluid is not normally associated with spreading disease, this project was begun after a series of epidemiological studies found motor vehicle use to be associated with increased risk for Legionnaires’ disease. 

The study was presented at the 114th General Meeting of American Society for Microbiology.

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