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Keywords:

  • infection control;
  • pneumonia;
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa ;
  • respiratory infections;
  • surveillance;
  • waterborne infections

Abstract

Aims

To compare the virulence pool and acute infection ability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates from a hydropathic facility, used to treat respiratory conditions by inhalation of untreated natural mineral water, with clinical isolates from respiratory infections.

Methods and Results

Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates from a hydropathic facility and from respiratory infections were typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Nonclonal representatives of each population were selected. 18 virulence-encoding genes were screened by polymerase chain reaction and statistically compared by multiple correspondence analysis. Homogeneous distribution of genes between populations but higher genetic association in aquatic isolates was observed, as well as distinct virulence pool according to location in the water system. Acute infection ability of selected isolates from each population, in Galleria mellonella model, showed lower LD50 of the majority of the hydropathic isolates and significant variations in LD50 of biofilm isolates from different equipments.

Conclusions

Hydrotherapy Ps. aeruginosa isolates present similar virulence to isolates from respiratory infections. Hydrotherapy users may be exposed to different microbiological risks when using different treatment equipments.

Significance and Impact of the Study

Twenty-one million people use hydropathic facilities in Europe, and the majority present risk factors to pneumonia. This study demonstrates the health risk associated with this practice. Revision of European regulations should be considered.