A story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently described an unusual outbreak at a Pittsburgh hospital. Although the epidemiology showed an association with ice chips, investigators were unable to find Legionella in the hospital water system. How could Legionella appear in ice from machines supplied by cold (not hot) water lines free from the bacterium? It was ultimately determined reservoirs within hospital ice machines were warmed by internal compressors, thus allowing Legionella colonies to grow.
Previous outbreaks involving ice makers and Legionella have been described in the literature (see, e.g., Schuetz et al, 2009, Graman et al, 1997, and Stout et al, 1985), but I doubt that many would immediately respond "ice machine" when asked about likely sources of Legionella infection in a hospital. Though anecdotal, this story illustrates how counter-intuitive outbreak investigation can be: One wouldn't necessarily think to look in a freezer for a bug that needs warm water to grow. But there it was, and hospital investigators figured it out when the ice chips were implicated. Bravo!
(image source: Wikipedia)