Is there a specific technology (e.g., in-line UV light unit) that might be appropriate to use with a hospital ice machine to decrease the risk of Legionella contamination of the unit/ice? We are contemplating purchase of new machines for selected units in the hospital.
There are numerous point-of-use (POU) treatment technologies that are commercially available. These technologies typically do not provide a disinfecting residual and include techniques such as UV and filtration. We have not tested any of these technologies in our VA lab so we cannot provide a recommendation on the “best” one.
There have been recommendations to use simple shock chlorination of the ice- machine to disinfect. Go to www.cdc.gov and see MMWR, Vol. 52 (RR10):1-42 Guidelines for Environmental Infection in Health-Care Facilities. You may also wish to talk to your ice-machine vendor about the pre-packaged disinfecting systems, although we have no experience of the validity of the claims of these vendors.
Remember POU technologies only disinfect where they are installed, so without proper maintenance you can still have contamination downstream from the point of disinfection (i.e. in the ice-machine). You may want to shock-disinfect the machine immediately after installation to help insure the parts down-stream from any POU system are Legionella free, the POU system will help prevent Legionella from reaching the ice-machine and colonizing it.