Group | Household Health Systems
Epidemiology of Legionella in Switzerland
Legionella spp. are common environmental bacteria, living in fresh water. They are also known to cultivate in man-made water reservoirs such as cooling towers or shower heads and in household plumbing systems. Infection may lead to legionellosis, a group of diseases ranging from a mild, flu-like illness (Pontiac fever), and pulmonary distress to potentially fatal pneumonia, known as Legionnaires ’ disease. The burden of disease due to Legionella spp. is unknown. Only high-income countries with well-functioning health systems maintain infectious disease surveillance systems that include Legionella infections. As of 1988, Legionellosis is a notifiable disease and must be reported to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Ever since, number of notifications steadily increased, and more than doubled in the last 15 years reaching 582 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in 2019.
To understand the Legionella epidemiology in the Swiss socio-ecological systems context a series of studies focuses on the infection pathway from exposure to patient to disease notification and the health system. These research endeavours prepare for an in-depth study among the annual cluster of Legionellosis cases investigating the risk factors and environmental exposure sites for contracting Legionnaires’ disease in Switzerland. These insights also inform forthcoming works for a spatial analysis of Legionnaires’ disease and associated risk patterns exploring the strong regional differences in incidence across Switzerland, and the ongoing collaborative research in the Eawag-led "Legionella control in buildings" (LeCo) consortium which bridges microbiological and human health research. Read more about the LeCo project
Global Burden of Disease
WHO and 14 collaborating research institutions have estimated that 842,000 diarrhoea deaths in low- and middle- income countries can be attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene. This amounts to 1.5% of the total disease burden and 58% of diarrhoeal diseases. The Household Health Systems group has contributed substantially to this series. For more information please consult WHO Programme "Water Sanitation Health"
Selected ProjectsAll Projects
Latest PublicationsAll Publications
Hartinger S.M et al. Antimicrobial resistance in humans, animals,water and household environs in rural andean peru: exploring dissemination pathways through the one health lens. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18:4604. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18094604
Nuño Martínez N, Wallenborn J, Mäusezahl D, Hartinger S.M, Muela Ribera J. Socio-cultural factors for breastfeeding cessation and their relationship with child diarrhoea in the rural high-altitude Peruvian Andes - a qualitative study. Int J Equity Health. 2021;20:165. DOI: 10.1186/s12939-021-01505-3
Stettler A. LeCo will Legionellen verstehen. Phase 5. 2021;1:34-39
Fischer F.B, Saucy A, Schmutz C, Mäusezahl D. Do changes in STEC diagnostics mislead interpretation of disease surveillance data in Switzerland? Time trends in positivity, 2007 to 2016. Euro Surveill. 2020;25(33):12-22. DOI: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.33.1900584
Fischer F.B, Schmutz C, Gaia V, Mäusezahl D. Legionnaires’ disease on the rise in Switzerland: a denominator-based analysis of national diagnostic data, 2007–2016. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17:7343. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17197343