Epidemiologist testing for Coronavirus infection in laboratory

Waterborne Pathogen Detection

Waterborne Pathogen Detection

Every year, there are roughly 7.2 million infections, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 7,000 deaths caused by waterborne pathogens in the United States. Healthcare and commercial facilities often have large, complex plumbing systems that promote the growth of biofilms. Biofilms can harbor pathogenic microorganisms such as Legionella pneumophila, which can lead to Legionnaires’ disease in immune-compromised patients.

While Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease are widely known, there are many more waterborne pathogens that can make you sick.

Why is waterborne pathogen detection important?

Water management plan regulations have shifted focus to a broader array of pathogens requiring healthcare facilities to monitor more than just Legionella. Our pathogen detection solutions address the most extensive list of CDC-noted, opportunistic waterborne pathogens in a single test system on the market today. We also offer customizable test systems for your specific testing needs.

The ability to reliably detect pathogenic presence in water is crucial to facilities so they may proactively protect –Facilities need reliable, fast methods to monitor the efficacy of their water management plans, identify sources of outbreaks when they occur, and determine areas of highest risk.

… waterborne pathogens are the causative agents (usually living organisms) for diseases that are being transmitted through water.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

What pathogens are waterborne?

Given the universal need for water, waterborne pathogens are a significant threat to public health due to the widespread risk of disease. The following organisms are noted by CDC as opportunistic waterborne pathogens:

The importance of qPCR testing

Culture-based methods are considered the gold standard for routine testing of Legionella. However, culturing is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and can lack sensitivity due to competition of growth from other microbes. In addition, not all Legionella species are culturable.

Organizations such as the EPA and CDC have researched a variety of analytical methods for detecting positive pathogenic results in water samples. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is the most popular molecular method for waterborne pathogen testing, as it is cost-effective, offers high precision and accuracy, and can provide results in a short amount of time.

qPCR technology is widely used now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The need for quick and accurate testing which was not prohibitively expensive heightened the demand and usage of qPCR as a standard for public health testing. At Nephros, we leverage this technology to determine water safety.

[There] was a mindset shift towards seeing that PCR testing can be really helpful and isn’t too hard or expensive… COVID did that for the clinical community.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

How do you detect waterborne pathogens?

Nephros performs multiplex qPCR using our novel primers and probe sets, along with our rapid waterborne pathogen detection method (PluraPath®), allowing us to obtain results in less than two hours. Our method can be deployed onsite or in a laboratory.

Nephros waterborne pathogen testing products leverage qPCR technology to provide highly sensitive testing results on-site. Our solutions can be used for rapid screening, and routine periodic monitoring.

Our pathogen detection solutions address the most extensive list of CDC-noted, opportunistic waterborne pathogens in a single test system on the market today. We also offer customizable test systems for your specific testing needs.

Facilities need reliable, fast methods to monitor the efficacy of their water management plans, identify sources of outbreaks when they occur, and determine areas of highest risk.

Our on-site testing solutions are important screening tools that remove the time constraints that often come with traditional culturing methods and prevent potential sample corruption that may occur during transport.


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