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J Hosp Infect. 2007 Sep;67(1):72-8. Epub 2007 Aug 28.

Contribution of tap water to patient colonisation with Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a medical intensive care unit.

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Unité INSERM 657, Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux, France.


This study examined tap water as a source of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a medical intensive care setting. We prospectively screened specimens of patients, tap water and hands of healthcare workers (HCWs) over a six-month period in a 16-bed medical intensive care unit. Molecular relatedness of P. aeruginosa strains was investigated by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. A total of 657 tap water samples were collected from 39 faucets and 127 hands of HCWs were sampled. P. aeruginosa was found in 11.4% of 484 tap water samples taken from patients' rooms and in 5.3% of 189 other tap water samples (P<0.01). P. aeruginosa was isolated from 38 patients. Typing of 73 non-replicate isolates (water samples, hands of HCWs and patients) revealed 32 major DNA patterns. Eleven (52.4%) of the 21 faucets were contaminated with a patient strain, found before isolation from tap water in the corresponding room in nine cases, or from the neighbouring room in two cases. Among seven P. aeruginosa strains isolated from HCW hands, the genotype obtained was the same as that from the last patient they had touched in six cases, and in the seventh with the last tap water sample used. More than half of P. aeruginosa carriage in patients was acquired via tap water or cross-transmission. Carriage of P. aeruginosa by patients was both the source and the consequence of tap water colonisation. These results emphasise the need for studies on how to control tap water contamination.

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