What is Pseudomonas Aeruginosa?
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a gram-negative, rod shaped bacterium that is commonly found in the environment around us. There are various strains of bacteria under the pseudomonas classification. However, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is typically more common than the other strains and it can cause infections in plants and animals, including humans.
Where does this strain show up?
While pseudomonas exists naturally in the environment around us, it also appears in various man-made water systems. Some bacteria die off in cold water, but this is not the case with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It can continue growing even when the water is as cold as four to five degrees Celsius, even though it does so at a slower rate. Typically, it will only die when the temperature reaches above 50 degrees Celsius.
Is it easy to identify when Pseudomonas aeruginosa is present?
The answer to this question is sometimes… but not always. Many owners and operators of buildings that have hot and cold water systems must test them regularly to monitor the levels of bacteria that are present, and in most cases it is the water used in these systems that is tested. Importantly however, the pseudomonas bacterium has been shown to develop on and inside the equipment used in the systems rather than just in the water itself. This can include the distribution pipes, drains, showers and sinks, taps, mixer valves and the like.
For example, let us suppose you have a water system that includes taps and a shower unit. You may test the water that comes out of the system regularly and find no evidence that Pseudomonas aeruginosa is present in high levels. However, if you were to test the insides of the pipes, the showerhead or taps, you may well find evidence that the bacteria have grown and multiplied there.
Types of infections caused by pseudomonas
Humans tend to be afflicted by ear and skin infections following exposure to this bacterium. These infections are more common when the individuals have been exposed to water that has not been properly treated, i.e. in swimming pools or hot tubs, for example. Most illnesses are minor and do not pose any ongoing or serious health risks to those people affected.
However, this bacterium can potentially cause fatal illnesses in people who are already ill, are weakened in some way or have a compromised immune system; this is more common in hospitals and other healthcare environments. For example, someone falling ill with an infection following surgery or treatment in hospital may be more prone to suffering a more serious infection. Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause blood infections and those of the lungs, and in these cases, they can potentially be fatal.
This is why proper disinfection and control, treatment and monitoring of the pseudomonas bacterium is so important, especially in hospitals and healthcare environments where vulnerable patients can unwittingly be exposed to this potentially serious bacterium.
Expert legionella and pseudomonas risk management support
To find out more about our specialist legionella and pseudomonas risk management services including risk assessment, City & Guilds training, water testing, and other risk management support services please contact us on 0161 877 0586 (Manchester) or 0203 637 47 48 (London).
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London EC1V 2NX
Tel: +44 (0) 203 637 47 48
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Tel: +44 (0) 161 877 0586
For additional information about Pseudomonas aeruginosa … here