Occupational saturation divers suffer from various skin disorders, of which skin infections are the most serious and frequent. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the microbe most often isolated.
P. aeruginosa isolates from 292 skin infections in operational saturation divers and about 800 isolates from occupational saturation diving systems have been collected during the period 1986 to 1998. Genotyping of the isolates has been performed by using restriction enzyme fragmentation and pulsed field gel electrophoresis.
Four hundred and seventy-two P. aeruginosa isolates have been analyzed, of which 181 originate from skin infections in divers. Ninety-seven significantly different P. aeruginosa genotypes have been defined. Some of these genotypes are solely found from skin infections, some solely from the saturation environment and about 25% were found both from infections and from the saturation environment. Eight frequent infectious genotypes have been identified, and these are shown to be present over several years, both in infections and in the saturation environment.
The study suggests that skin infections in occupational saturation divers are commonly caused by environmental strains.