Occurrence of Legionella in UK household showers

Samuel Collins*, David Stevenson, Allan Bennett, Jimmy Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Household water systems have been proposed as a source of sporadic, community acquired Legionnaires’ disease. Showers represent a frequently used aerosol generating device in the domestic setting yet little is known about the occurrence of Legionella spp. in these systems. This study has investigated the prevalence of Legionella spp. by culture and qPCR in UK household showers. Ninety nine showers from 82 separate properties in the South of England were sampled. Clinically relevant Legionella spp. were isolated by culture in 8% of shower water samples representing 6% of households. Legionella pneumophila sg1 ST59 was isolated from two showers in one property and air sampling demonstrated its presence in the aerosol state. A further 31% of showers were positive by Legionella spp. qPCR. By multi-variable binomial regression modelling Legionella spp. qPCR positivity was associated with the age of the property (p = 0.02), the age of the shower (p = 0.01) and the frequency of use (p = 0.09). The concentration of Legionella spp. detected by qPCR was shown to decrease with increased frequency of use (p = 0.04) and more frequent showerhead cleaning (p = 0.05). There was no association between Legionella spp. qPCR positivity and the cold water supply or the showerhead material (p = 0.65 and p = 0.71, respectively). Household showers may be important reservoirs of clinically significant Legionella and should be considered in source investigations. Simple public health advice may help to mitigate the risk of Legionella exposure in the domestic shower environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-406
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Aerosol
  • Domestic
  • Legionella
  • Legionnaires’ disease
  • Shower


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