Prevalence and antimicrobial-resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in swimming pools and hot tubs

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 Feb;8(2):554-64. doi: 10.3390/ijerph8020554. Epub 2011 Feb 18.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important opportunistic pathogen in recreational waters and the primary cause of hot tub folliculitis and otitis externa. The aim of this surveillance study was to determine the background prevalence and antimicrobial resistance profile of P. aeruginosa in swimming pools and hot tubs. A convenience sample of 108 samples was obtained from three hot tubs and eight indoor swimming pools. Water and swab samples were processed using membrane filtration, followed by confirmation with polymerase chain reaction. Twenty-three samples (21%) were positive for P. aeruginosa, and 23 isolates underwent susceptibility testing using the microdilution method. Resistance was noted to several antibiotic agents, including amikacin (intermediate), aztreonam, ceftriaxone, gentamicin, imipenem, meropenem (intermediate), ticarcillin/clavulanic acid, tobramycin (intermediate), and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. The results of this surveillance study indicate that 96% of P. aeruginosa isolates tested from swimming pools and hot tubs were multidrug resistant. These results may have important implications for cystic fibrosis patients and other immune-suppressed individuals, for whom infection with multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa would have greater impact. Our results underlie the importance of rigorous facility maintenance, and provide prevalence data on the occurrence of antimicrobial resistant strains of this important recreational water-associated and nosocomial pathogen.

Keywords: Antimicrobial resistance; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; hot tub; indoor recreational water; swimming pool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology
  • Swimming Pools*