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Authors' response: Legionnaires' disease following the Christchurch earthquakes

Abstract

Because the change in testing algorithm coincided with the devastating earthquakes, we considered it important to obtain microbiological evidence to ascertain if the liquefaction events were directly contributing to the increased case numbers.[...] Professor Murdoch suggests that we cannot justify any claim that"... liquefaction-affected soil does not support the growth and survival of legionellae..." The use of culture-based methods at the time was justifiable since reliable PCR detection from potting mix and soils is inaccurate. 4 It is also difficult to interpret standard PCR detection methods for any matrix, as these do not distinguish between live and dead bacteria. Because of this limitation, culture isolation is still regarded as the reference standard method for risk analysis determinations.

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