Perkin-Elmer Cetus Instruments of Norwalk, Conn., plans thisspring to start marketing a kit for detecting Legionella bacteriain air conditioning systems, according to Stan Rose, businessunit manager for reagents.

The kit will use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology todetect two DNA sequences present in Legionella pneumophila,the bacterium responsible for Legionnaire's disease. Legionellais now identified in water samples taken from building coolingtowers using traditional microbial culture and fluorescencemicroscopy techniques, both of which can take up to 72 hours.Rose said the PCR-based kit can detect Legionellacontamination within five hours.

The kit will initially be used for research and to investigateoutbreaks of Legionnaire's. Perkin-Elmer Cetus plans to laterwork with the Environmental Protection Agency to developstandards for widespread screening using the kit.

Bioindustrial Technologies Inc. of Grafton, N.Y., sells a kit forpreparing water samples for Legionella testing usingfluorescent antibodies. The company can provide results within24 hours, said senior vice president David Dziewulski.

Perkin-Elmer Cetus is also developing PCR-based kits fordetecting Escherichia coli, giardia, shigella and salmonella indrinking water. -- Carol Ezzell

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