Occurrence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in waters: implications for patients with cystic fibrosis (CF)

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Abstract

Chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Current understanding of risk factors for acquisition is limited and so the aim of this study was to examine a large sample of environmental waters from diverse sources. Environmental water samples (n = 7904) from jacuzzis, hydrants, swimming pools, hot tubs, plunge pools, bottled natural mineral water, taps, springs, ice machines, water coolers, bores and showers were examined for the presence of P. aeruginosa. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was detected in 524/7904 (6·6%) waters examined. Hot tubs (51/243; 20·9%), tap water (3/40; 8%) and jacuzzis (432/5811; 7·4%) were the most likely environments where P. aeruginosa was isolated. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was isolated from bottled water (2/67; 3%). Our study highlights the ubiquitous nature of P. aeruginosa in the environment. Given CF patients are frequently counselled to make lifestyle changes to minimize P. aeruginosa exposure, these results have important implications. In particular, the occurrence of P. aeruginosa in tap water highlights the need to disinfect the CF patients' nebulizer after each use.

Significance and Impact of the Study:

This study examined a large number of water sources (n = 7904) over a 9-year period for the presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The study highlighted that jacuzzis (n = 5811; 7% positive) and hot tubs had the highest occurrence of this organism (n = 243, 21% positive). Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) are interested in knowing what water environments are likely to be contaminated with this organism, as this bacterium is an important cause of increased morbidity and mortality in such patients. With such information, CF patients and parents may make informed decisions about lifestyle choice and water environment avoidance.

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