Showerhead bacteria linked to lung infections, study finds

U.S. regions where bacteria are most prevalent in showerheads are the same regions where nontuberculous mycobacterial lung infections are most common, according to a study cited by the American Society for Microbiology.

The study, published in mBio, found showerheads in U.S. and European households "often harbor abundant mycobacterial communities that vary in composition depending on geographic location, water chemistry and water source." Households that had water treated with chlorine disinfectants had especially high abundances of certain mycobacteria.

The study shows mycobacterial distributions in showerheads can often be predicted from a household's location and water chemistry. The results could help develop strategies to reduce exposures to these emerging pathogens, the American Society for Microbiology noted.

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