Jun 12, 2003

New Filter Provides Barrier from <I>Legionella</I> Bacteria and Other Pathogens in Hospital Water

Presence of the bacteria Legionella pneumophilia in hospitals and nursing homes in the U.S. and Europe has been detected at an alarming rate. Contaminated water has frequently been found to be the source. In response to the increasing number of outbreaks in U.S. hospitals, Pall Corporation introduced the Pall AquaSafe(TM) water filter.

The point-of-use filter prevents the spread of Legionella and other potentially lethal pathogens found in the water systems of hospitals and other health care provider sites. AquaSafe provides an effective barrier from waterborne microbial contamination ensuring the availability of high purity water for bathing, showering, food preparation, drinking, rinsing of medical instruments and other hygiene measures in hospitals and medical institutions.

The growing problem of hospital water contaminated with bacteria, fungi and protozoa can be harmful to patients, especially those with compromised immune systems. These include surgical, cancer, burn, transplant, chronic lung disease and HIV infected patients as well as the elderly and newborns. Contaminated water has been found in a wide number of places throughout the hospital from patient rooms to intensive care units. This has resulted in an increase in nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections, some of which are resistant to antibiotics.

Infection control experts in hospitals and medical institutions are increasingly turning to point-of-use filtration as a preventive measure to alleviate the problem of contaminated water systems. Disinfecting water at a treatment plant or even at the point of entry into a hospital does not solve the problem. Bacteria and other microorganisms create biofilms (when they attach themselves to a surface as a colony) in piping systems, faucets and shower heads. When the water meets the air, these biofilms can also create an aerosolized germ that can be inhaled. Water treatment methods including heat, chemical disinfection and ultraviolet radiation do not reliably remove the biofilms that form.

Patient exposure to these potentially lethal microorganisms in the hospital occurs while showering, bathing, drinking, ingesting ice and from inhaling aerosols of contaminated water. Exposure also can occur through contact with medical equipment, such as tube feed bags, endoscopes and bronchoscopes, which can become contaminated when rinsed with tap water, or from the hands of healthcare personnel who have washed using tap water.

Although Legionella is the most recognized of all the waterborne pathogens, there are many others microbes that are as dangerous. In an analysis conducted by Elias J. Anaissie, MD, et.al., of the Myeloma and Transplantation Research Center, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the waterborne bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa is estimated to cause about 1,400 pneumonia deaths in U.S. hospitals each year (Archives of Internal Medicine, July 2002). Most recently, the medical community raised new concern about the toxic mold Aspergillus found in hospital water systems. In a newly reported study, this waterborne fungus was found to cause illness in about 15 percent of immune compromised patients with a 50 percent fatality rate, despite the use of traditional preventative measures.

The Pall AquaSafe Water Filter is a disposable, sterilizing grade filter (0.2um membrane) for faucets and shower heads that reduces microbial contamination and is a barrier against common contaminants such as Legionella, Pseudomonas, Aspergillus and Cryptosporidium found in hospital water supplies. It provides 7 days of filtration and is easy to use for both large and small volumes of point-of-use water.