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. 2019 Jun;45(4):983-989.
doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2018.11.019. Epub 2018 Dec 27.

Common Hydrotherapy Practices and the Prevalence of Burn Wound Bacterial Colonisation at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia


Common Hydrotherapy Practices and the Prevalence of Burn Wound Bacterial Colonisation at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia

Mudaniso Ziwa et al. Burns. .


Background: In many parts of the world, hydrotherapy plays an important role in the management of patients with wounds including burns. Different centers practice hydrotherapy differently. At the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, burn patients use a common bathtub for cleaning their wounds which theoretically increases the risk of cross-infection, an important source of morbidity and mortality. There is currently no evidence that hydrotherapy as practiced at our institution leads to cross infection among patients with burns.

Objective: The objective was to determine if our hydrotherapy practice and water plays a role in cross-infection and what organisms cause this infection.

Methods: This was a prospective analytical study. Patients meeting the selection criteria were recruited. Swabs from the burn wounds were collected on admission (day 0), day 4 and day 7. Weekly swabs of the bathtub were also collected, after the tub had been cleaned and declared ready for the next patient. Weekly water samples were also collected. Selected results, for Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae, were subjected to further analysis and PCR. Results were analyzed using statistics software, SPSS version 23.

Results: In this study, there were 96 participants of which 51 (53.1%) were males and 45 (46.9%) were females. Age distribution ranged from 5months to 91 years. The modal age range was 1 to 2 years. The modal burn percentage was 6%-10%, followed by 11%-15%. Hot water was the cause of burns in 65.6%. S. aureus and K. pneumoniae were the most common organisms isolated. Others were enteric organisms. In terms of readily available antibiotics, there was more sensitivity to Amikacin and Chloramphenicol than Ciprofloxacin (our commonly used antibiotic). The bathtub also had S. aureus and K. pneumoniae, besides enteric organisms. Sixty five point four percent (65.4%) of the Klebsiella were ESBL (Extended Spectrum Beta Lactamase) producers. The tub had samples that were both ESBL producers as well as widely resistant Klebsiella by other means. No growth was obtained from the water samples. Seventy-two point nine percent (72.9%) of the patients were discharged, 19.8% died, while 7.3% left against medical advice.

Conclusion: Hydrotherapy as currently practiced at the University Teaching Hospital does contribute significantly to cross-infection among burn patients with widely resistant organisms. The main ones are S. aureus and K. pneumoniae. Switching care to a shower mechanism might help eliminate this problem as the study demonstrates that no bacteria were found in the water samples.

Keywords: Colonization; Hydrotherapy; Infection.

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