Legionella Culture  

IMPORTANT! Pre-approval needed from state or local health department. Local or State Health Department. Send approval to NPHL@unmc.edu or call (402) 559-9444.

NPHL has moved to an electronic ordering system, NUlirt, and it is now the preferred method to order all tests. Once ordered, print a "batch list" (see NUlirt Guide).

Forms Required - Nulirt batch list or NPHL Test Request Form (completed in entirety) must accompany the specimen to include the following information: symptoms and date of onset, pregnancy status, travel and vaccine history. Testing will not be performed without all required information.

Please call NPHL Client Services at (402) 559-2440 or toll free at (800) 334-0459 for further clarification.


Test: Legionella Culture
Order in NUlirt or complete NPHL Test Order Form  
Synonym: Legionnaires' disease or LD, Legionellosis, Pontiac fever  
Method: Standard reference procedures for Legionella culture and identification. Culture detects L. pneumophila and other Legionella species in clinical specimens.  
Availability: Test performed daily, Daily preliminary reports.
Final report in 7 days  
Specimen: Respiratory tract secretions and aspirates, tissue, fluid, sputum, abscess material  
Collection Device: Collect in a sterile container
Specimen Labeling: Test subject to CLIA regulations and requires 2 patient identifiers on specimen container and requisition forms  
Volume: Fluid: 0.5-1.0mL (Minimum: 0.5mL); Tissue: keep moist with sterile non-bacteriostatic saline; Blood: SPS tube  

Prior to and during shipment:  Refrigerate 2-8°C.  
Shipping instructions, including specimen-handling requirements during transport:  Seal screw-top tubes with Parafilm™ or tape and place in biohazard bag with absorbent material.

Place specimen inside leak proof secondary container (biohazard bag and if transporting by air, use Tyvek™ Envelope) ) with adsorbent material. The secondary container must be packed inside an approved Category B shipping container filled with dry ice to keep specimen frozen. Position NUlirt packing list or NPHL Test Order form between secondary container and box lid. Seal with tape.  Label outer box as UN3373 Category B, Biological Substance. Transport by NPHL ground courier. If courier not available, ship by FedEx, UPS, or USPS (1st Class, Priority or Express Mail). Follow appropriate DOT/IATA Regulation Guidelines.  For assistance, call NPHL State Training Coordinator at (402) 559-3590.  
See instructions and shipping address: http://nphl.org/

NUlirt packing list or appropriate paperwork (completed in entirety) must accompany specimens.

Unacceptable: Non-sterile container or leaking container, specimen submitted in saline, formalin or viral transport medium, urine, dry specimen. Stool, urine, other non-respiratory sites.  
Specimen Stability: Store and transport at Ambient 15-25°C if <2h.
If delayed >2 h, store and transport at refrigerator temps 2-8°C
If >24h, store and transport frozen on dry ice.  
Reference Interval: Negative for Legionella species  
Reportable Disease: Positive Legionella results should be reported within 7 days to local or state health department. Refer to Nebraska DHHS Title 173, Communicable Diseases. 
All positive Legionella species isolated should be submitted to the NPHL for molecular sequencing to supplement and epidemiological investigation.  
Comments: To prevent drying, submit specimen in sterile, non-bacteriostatic water. Do not use saline in specimen collection. DFA in addition to culture is suggested. Positive results will be notification.
NUlirt packing list or NPHL Test Order Form (completed in entirety) must accompany the specimen  
Revised: 6/11/2021 
If you have questions about proper specimen collection, please call NPHL Client Services at (402) 559-2440 or toll free at (800) 334-0459.