Background In 2012 a UK NICU experienced an outbreak of Ps aeruginosa. 4 months earlier the unit installed sensor taps containing a complex flow straightener with an infra-red sensor on the end of the tap. The same strain of Ps. aeruginosa was found in the flow straightener of 5 sensor taps and clinical samples.1 Sensor taps were subsequently installed without flow straighteners.
Methods Weekly sampling of tap water was commenced. If a water sample was positive for Ps aeruginosa, the tap and sink were de-commissioned and the tap removed and analysed. Inpatients were screened with weekly skin swabs for Pseudomonas.
Results Over 20 months 4040 samples of tap water were analysed, 2 were positive for Ps aeruginosa. The first episode involved formation of biofilm in threads of a screw on collar at the tap outlet. The second was associated with a visible calcified deposit adjacent to the outlet.
During this period 3 infants were colonised with unique strains of Ps aeruginosa.
Discussion Beginning with the outbreak the tap design was modified after each episode of contamination. The current design has:
Absence of a flow straightener
A single unit of steel as the tap spout and is removable/ autoclavable. No additional attachments are present.
A Teflon coated outlet which minimises droplet adherence under the body of the tap.
An infra-red sensor located remotely from the tap.
An environmental source was not identified for any of the colonised infants.
Walker JT, Jhutty AJ, Parks S, et al. Investigation of healthcare- acquired infections associated with Pseudomonaas aeruginosa biofilms in taps in neonatal units in Northern Ireland. Journal of Hospital Infection 2014;86:16–23
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