Water distribution systems have been demonstrated to be a major source of nosocomial legionellosis. We describe an outbreak in our institution in which a novel source of Legionella pneumophila was identified in the plumbing system.
After an outbreak of 10 cases of legionellosis in our hospital, recommended measures including superheating of the hot water to 80 degrees C, hyperchlorination to 2 ppm, and flushing resulted in no new cases in the following 5 years. Recently, despite these control measures, three new cases occurred. Surveillance cultures of shower heads and water tanks were negative; cultures of tap water samples remained positive. This prompted a search for another reservoir. Shock absorbers installed within water pipes to decrease noise were suspected.
One hundred twenty-five shock absorbers were removed and cultured. A total of 13 (10%) yielded heavy growth of L. pneumophila (serogroup 1). Since their removal, no new cases have been found and the percentage of positive results of random tap water culture has dropped from 20% to 5%.
This is the first report that identifies shock absorbers as a possible reservoir for L. pneumophila. We recommend that institutions with endemic legionellosis assess the water system for possible removal of shock absorbers.
In order to determine whether water or water-related surfaces are a reservoir for opportunistic filamentous fungi, water sampling in the paediatric bone marrow transplantation (BMT) unit of the National Hospital University of Oslo, Norway was performed. During a six-month period 168 water samples and 20 samples from water-related surfaces were taken. The water samples were taken from the taps and showers in the BMT unit and from the main pipe supplying the paediatric department with water. In addition, 20 water samples were taken at the intake reservoir supplying the city of Oslo with drinking water. Filamentous fungi were recovered from 94% of all the water samples taken inside the hospital with a mean colony forming unit (cfu) count of 2.7/500mL of water. Aspergillus fumigatus was recovered from 49% and 5.6% of water samples from the taps and showers, respectively (mean 1.9 and 1.0cfu/500mL). More than one third (38.8%) of water samples from the main pipe revealed A. fumigatus (mean 2.1cfu/500mL). All water samples taken at the intake reservoir were culture positive for filamentous fungi, 85% of the water samples showed A. fumigatus (mean 3.1cfu/500mL). Twenty-five percent of water-related surfaces yielded filamentous fungi, but A. fumigatus was recovered from only two samples. We showed that filamentous fungi are present in the hospital water and to a lesser extent on water-related surfaces. The recovery of filamentous fungi in water samples taken at the intake reservoir suggests that the source of contamination is located outside the hospital.