An outbreak of hospital-acquired Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection caused by contaminated bottled water in intensive care units

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2008 May;14(5):454-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2008.01949.x. Epub 2008 Feb 22.


This study describes an outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections caused by contaminated bottled still water (BSW) in six intensive care units (ICUs) of a German university hospital. Clinical and environmental samples from these units were cultured and genotyped by amplified fragment-length polymorphism and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis. Microbiological results were reviewed on a weekly basis to determine the number of P. aeruginosa infections and colonisations of ICU patients. Clinical specimens from 19 ICU patients--15 infections and four colonisations--yielded the same strain of P. aeruginosa. Furthermore, four of 103 environmental samples also yielded P. aeruginosa. However, only a P. aeruginosa strain isolated from unopened BSW was genetically identical to the P. aeruginosa strain isolated from the patients. In the 42-week period before the outbreak, the mean weekly number of new ICU patients infected or colonised with P. aeruginosa was 46.9 (95% CI 40.7-53.1)/1000 bed-days. During the 6-week period of the outbreak, the weekly number of new patients with P. aeruginosa was 88.9 (95% CI 54.3-122.2)/1000 bed-days. This number returned to the previous level after removal of the BSW. Thus, the microbiological and epidemiological findings revealed that the outbreak was related to BSW contaminated with P. aeruginosa. It was concluded that all untested BSW should be removed from ICUs.

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Pseudomonas Infections / epidemiology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification*
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Supply*