The Spartan Cube

Spartan Legionella Detection System

The first on-site Legionella DNA test.
Prevent Legionnaires' outbreaks in your building.

  • Powered by Nobel Prize-winning qPCR chemistry
  • Results in 45 minutes instead of weeks
  • Detects live and not dead bacteria
  • Tests potable and non-potable water sources
  • Calibrated so that 1 GU/mL = 1 CFU/mL
  • Validated according to ISO 12869
  • Evaluated and in use by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Performed on the Spartan Cube

The first environmental DNA testing platform.
It's like having your own portable qPCR lab.

  • ISO 13485-grade qPCR technology for environmental sector
  • On-site testing eliminates delays associated with external labs
  • Expandable platform — Pseudomonas and E. coli coming soon

Easy to Use

Get on-site DNA results in 45 minutes.

Collect a water sample
Collect water
Prepare the sample cartridge
Prepare sample
Run the Cube
Results in 45 minutes

FAQ

If you are not performing any Legionella testing or are relying on lab-based testing methods alone, then you are at risk of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in your building.

The first reason is that Legionella contamination of water sources is common. In a study, the CDC collected water samples from cooling towers across the US and found Legionella pneumophila growing in 27% of towers.1 If you are not performing testing, then you could be missing Legionella contamination in your building, which can lead to serious consequences such as Legionnaires' disease outbreaks, death of workers, and lawsuits.

The second reason is that the most common testing method is Legionella culture, which takes 10-14 days for results, has a 62% false negative rate,2 and underestimates the actual amount of Legionella by an average of 17-fold.3 This exposes your building to the risk of Legionella outbreaks. Spartan has solved this problem by developing the first on-site Legionella qPCR test.

  1. Llewellyn AC et al. (2017). Distribution of Legionella and bacterial community composition among regionally diverse US cooling towers. PLoS One. 12(12): e0189937.
  2. Harder C et al. (2018). Spartan Legionella Detection System: An in-field study. Spartan Bioscience.
  3. Lucas CE, Taylor TH, Fields BS. (2011). Accuracy and precision of Legionella isolation by US laboratories in the ELITE program pilot study. Water Res. 45(15): 4428–4436.

Spartan has designed and calibrated its test so that Spartan values in GU/mL are directly correlated to CFU/mL. In other words, 1 GU/mL measured with the Spartan test is directly equivalent to 1 CFU/mL measured with culture. This means you can use your existing action levels for treating contamination.

Yes, Spartan's test detects live and not dead Legionella bacteria. The test has a filtering mechanism that preferentially captures live cells and allows free-floating DNA and dead bacteria to pass through. We proved this by collecting water samples on-site and testing them immediately with Spartan's test and in parallel with on-site culture. The results from both on-site tests were equivalent. Contact a Spartan representative for more information.

Yes, Spartan's test is easy to use by non-technical personnel.

Spartan's test is validated according to ISO/TS 12869:2012 "Water quality – Detection and quantification of Legionella spp. and/or Legionella pneumophila by concentration and genic amplification by quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR)".1 The test is in use by the world's leading public health authorities, real estate companies, data centers, and healthcare organizations.

  1. Ahmed S et al. (2019). Validation and in-field testing of a new on-site qPCR system for quantification of Legionella pneumophila according to ISO/TS 12869:2012 in HVAC cooling towers. J Water Health. 17(2): 237–253.

Spartan's on-site Legionella qPCR test has an LOD of 8 Genomic Units (GU)/mL, which is directly equivalent to 8 Colony Forming Units (CFU)/mL.

The reason we designed our test with this LOD, and not lower, is because research from the CDC and Veterans Administration (VA) have shown that in real life, the LOD for culture testing is approximately 10 CFU/mL even if you concentrate a 250 mL- or 1,000-mL sample. Also, research has shown that an LOD of 10 CFU/mL is conservative, and "even for high-risk patients (eg, such as those undergoing organ transplant, chemotherapy or dialysis), a 10 CFU/mL LOD appears to be adequate."

  1. Jinadatha C et al. (2018). Environmental validation of Legionella control in a VHA facility water system. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 39(3): 259-266.
  2. Lucas CE, Taylor TH, Fields BS. (2011). Accuracy and precision of Legionella isolation by US laboratories in the ELITE program pilot study. Water Res. 45(15): 4428-4436.
  3. McCoy WF, Rosenblatt AA. (2015). HACCP-based programs for preventing disease and injury from premise plumbing: A building consensus. Pathogens. 4(3): 513-528.

Both Spartan and lab qPCR utilize a Nobel Prize-winning chemistry called quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) to detect the DNA of organisms such as Legionella bacteria. In medical diagnostics, qPCR tests have replaced culture tests because qPCR is significantly faster and more accurate.

However, lab qPCR tests for Legionella suffer from the following limitations:

  • They detect both live and dead bacteria, which means they can over-call the amount of pathogenic bacteria, thus leading to overtreatment of the water source
  • They are not calibrated to culture, which means you cannot use your existing action levels
  • In a study, Legionella bacteria degraded in 77% of water samples shipped to the lab, which led to underestimates of the true amount of Legionella and false negatives1

In comparison, Spartan on-site qPCR:

  • Provides results immediately on-site, which means there is no bacterial degradation and false negative results from shipping water samples to a lab
  • Uses proprietary technology to detect live and not dead Legionella bacteria
  • Is calibrated to culture such that 1 GU/mL with Spartan = 1 CFU/mL with culture, which means you can use your existing action levels
  1. Ahmed S et al. (2019). Validation and in-field testing of a new on-site qPCR system for quantification of Legionella pneumophila according to ISO/TS 12869:2012 in HVAC cooling towers. J Water Health. 17(2): 237–253.

There are rapid Legionella tests on the market, such as lateral flow tests, dip slides, and ATPase tests. These tests have significant drawbacks that make them unsuitable for preventing the risk of Legionella contamination. Lateral flow tests are not quantitative. This is important because there are action levels for water treatment depending on the amount of Legionella in a water sample. Also, they do not detect all of the Legionella pneumophila serogroups which cause disease.1 Dipslides do not distinguish between Legionella and other bacterial species. Also, they require 24-48 hours of incubation to get a result. Finally, and most importantly, their real-world limit of detection is approximately 10,000 bacteria/mL.2, 3 Similarly, ATPase tests have a real-world limit of detection of 10,000 bacteria/mL.3 To put this number in context, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that Legionella outbreaks typically occur at levels of 100-1,000 bacteria/mL.4 In other words, ATPase and dipslide tests have extremely poor performance for detecting Legionella contamination. In comparison, Spartan's on-site qPCR test has a limit of detection of 8 bacteria/mL; quantifies the precise amount of Legionella equivalent to culture; detects all L. pneumophila serogroups; and is validated according to the ISO 12869 standard. These advantages enable Spartan's test to help you prevent the risk of Legionella contamination.

  1. Mercante JW, Winchell JM. (2015). Current and emerging Legionella diagnostics for laboratory and outbreak investigations. Clin Microbiol Rev. 28(1): 95–133.
  2. Bentham RH. (1993). Environmental factors affecting the colonization of cooling towers by Legionella spp. in South Australia. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation. 31: 55–63.
  3. Mueller SA et al. (2009). Comparison of plate counts, Petrifilm, dipslides, and adenosine triphosphate bioluminescence for monitoring bacteria in cooling-tower waters. Water Environ Res. 81(4): 401–406.
  4. Bartram J. (2007). Legionella and the prevention of legionellosis. World Health Organization: Geneva.

Spartan's test has been validated with a wide variety of water sources, including cooling towers, potable water, domestic hot water systems, humidifiers, hot tubs, showers, and fountains.

Spartan's test detects a genetic sequence that is conserved among serogroups of Legionella pneumophila. Specifically, Spartan's test has been verified to detect over 15 serogroups of L. pneumophila (including serogroup 1) as recommended by ISO/TS 12869:2012 "Water quality – Detection and quantification of Legionella spp. and/or Legionella pneumophila by concentration and genic amplification by quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR)".

There are two key reasons: time to response and accuracy of results.

  • Time to response: Preventing Legionella growth in water supplies requires fast detection. It takes as few as 7 days for Legionella to grow to outbreak levels1,2 and off-site lab testing can take up to 14 days to provide a result. On-site qPCR can provide results in minutes, enabling immediate detection and response.
  • Accuracy of results: Legionella bacteria often dies during shipment of water samples to the lab due to non-oxidizing biocides in the water.3 This is why culture has a high false negative rate and it can be weeks or months before Legionella contamination is detected. On-site testing eliminates the risk of sample degradation.
  1. French Ministry of the Environment. (2006). The appearance of legionella in the cooling system of a sugar refinery 30 November, 2000. ARIA. No. 19456.
  2. Marshall AG, Bellucci EC. (1986). Legionella pneumophila: A continuing threat. Hospitality Review. 1(4): Article 2.
  3. Ahmed S et al. (2019). Validation and in-field testing of a new on-site qPCR system for quantification of Legionella pneumophila according to ISO/ TS 12869: 2012 in HVAC cooling towers. J Water Health. 17(2): 237–253.