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Commun Dis Public Health. 2002 Mar;5(1):23-6.

Incidence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in recreational and hydrotherapy pools.

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Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Department of Bacteriology, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast BT9 7AD.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa remains an important agent of opportunistic infection in patients, particularly those with respiratory complications and burns. One natural niche of this organism is water and water-associated facilities, hence the aim of this study was to examine specimens from recreational and hydrotherapy pools in Northern Ireland over a two-year period. Water specimens (n = 3,510) were obtained from three amenity categories, namely, 13 hydrotherapy pools (specimen number [n] = 323), 51 Jacuzzis/spas (n = 1,397) and 68 swimming pools (n = 1,790). Specimens (100 ml) were filtered through a cellulose acetate (0.45 micron pore size) gridded filter and the membrane was placed on Pseudomonas CFC agar (Oxoid CM559 + SR103) and incubated at 37 degrees C for 48 +/- 2 h. Colonies that clearly showed pyocyanin production or met other identification criteria were considered P. aeruginosa. Of the amenities examined 4/13 hydrotherapy pools (30.8%), 37/51 Jacuzzis/spas (72.5%) and 26/68 swimming pools (38.2%) were positive for P. aeruginosa. The most heavily contaminated amenity category was the Jacuzzi/spa, where 34.7% and 12% of private and public sites respectively were positive for P. aeruginosa at a level of greater than 1,000 cfu 100 ml-1. Approximately twice as many samples were positive in private Jacuzzis/spas compared to publicly operated facilities. There was a similar trend with respect to public and private hydrotherapy pools, though bacterial counts did not exceed 1,000 cfu 100 ml-1. Recreational and therapeutic amenities involving the use of water may be a potential source of P. aeruginosa for susceptible patient groups, including patients with cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis. This may vary depending on amenity type and public/private ownership of such amenities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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