Conference will focus on Legionella prevention


Dr. Dave Dyjack, executive director of the National Environmental Health Association, addresses 360 industry and public health experts at the 2019 Legionella Conference held in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of NSF Health Sciences)

An international conference on Legionella will put the emphasis on preventing deadly outbreaks of the bacteria in hospitals and health care settings. The 2020 Legionella Conference will run Aug. 19-21 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Chicago, Illinois.

NSF Health Sciences and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) are partnering as conference co-hosts to help stem this rising public health threat. Public health leaders, policymakers, researchers, practitioners and water management system experts will discuss policies and strategies for the prevention of waterborne disease outbreaks, including hazards related to medical devices, cleaning and disinfection in sterile settings, and water quality requirements in hospitals and health care facilities.

Legionnaires’ disease is fatal to 25 per cent of patients who contract it in a health care setting and to 10 per cent of the general population, reports the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A review reported by the CDC in 2016, shows that 90 per cent of outbreaks could have been prevented with a comprehensive water management plan.

“The data continues to tell us that deadly Legionnaires’ disease cases are on the rise, and it also shows the outbreaks leading to these cases may be preventable. Bringing together experts at the Legionella Conference who can effect change is a major step in our commitment to protecting public health,” said Kevan Lawlor, CEO and president of NSF International.

Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria dispersed through man-made water systems in the form of contaminated aerosolized droplets. Common sources are showerheads, cooling towers, public fountains and hot tubs. Once inhaled, an acute form of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease can develop. Legionella can also lead to the less-severe Pontiac fever.

This will be the third annual Legionella Conference. The deadline to submit abstracts for oral presentations is March 1, 2020. The deadline to submit abstracts for poster presentations is April 1, 2020. Applications for presentations and posters may be submitted online at

Pre-conference training workshops will be held Aug. 18, the day before the conference officially begins. To find out more about the 2020 Legionella Conference, please visit


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