Hospital water supply as a potential source of nosocomial opportunistic mold infections

P. Verweij, J. Meis, M. van den Bergh, B. de Pauw , A. Voss.


Objectives: To determine the level of contamination of hospital water supplies with opportunistic molds in a hematology ward and to compare the results with molds involved in fungal disease in that department over the past 5 years.Methods: All water outlets, drainage pipes and showerheads from the hematology ward were cultured for the presence of molds. At all sites, specimens were obtained by swabs which were streaked onto Sabouraud glucose agar plates containing 10% chloramphenicol and gentamicin. Plates were incubated at 35'C for 96 h and examined for the presence of fungi every 24 h. Molds were identified by their colony characteristics and the appearance of their conidia and conidiophores. The database of the Department of Medical Microbiology was searched for fungi which had caused fungal disease among patients cared for in the hematology department.Results: Molds were recovered from any water source in 6 of 11 (55%) patient rooms and from outlets in rooms occupied by healthcare workers. Furthermore, the showerhead of a shower used by patients cared for in rooms without washing facilities was also positive. Fusarium species were the most prevalent, followed by Cladosporium species. Aspergillus species were not recovered from any of the cultured sites. The prevalence of invasive aspergillosis was 6% in the hematology ward over the past 5 years and infections had been caused almost exclusively by Aspergillus fumigatus. Other molds had caused infection only sporadically and no cases of invasive infections by Fusarium or Cladosporium species were identified. Conclusions: Opportunistic molds may be present in the hospital water supply, but in our hospital, water appeared not to be a major factor in the transmission of invasive fungal infections.

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9th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
    • ECCMID 9th (1999)