Study links bacterial outbreak in hospital NICU to contaminated tap water

A study published in May in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology links a 2013-2014 Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreak in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit to contaminated hospital tap water.

Thirty-one babies were infected in the outbreak from June 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2014. An investigation into the outbreak found the cases were "associated with absence of point-of-use filters on faucets in patient rooms," according to the study.

Cultures from the water also grew P. aeruginosa, and the investigation ultimately attributed the outbreak to contaminated water.

The hospital installed point-of-use filters as a short-term solution, but did have to eradicate P. aeruginosa from the water system and faucets as a long-term fix.

"This outbreak highlights the importance of understanding the risk of stagnant water in healthcare facilities," the study concludes.

P. aeruginosa in healthcare settings typically spreads through contaminated equipment like breathing machines or catheters, as well as by healthcare workers' hands, according to the CDC.

Such infections are treatable with antibiotics, but can be deadly, especially when caused by multidrug-resistant strains. The CDC classified multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas as a serious threat in a 2013 report.

More articles on infection control:
2 infants diagnosed with Legionnaires' following water births: 6 things to know
CMS memo: Hospitals must develop water management policies to prevent Legionnaires' disease
Legionnaires' disease is still 'widespread' in hospitals, CDC study finds

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