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Are waterborne viruses a risk in hospitals?

Published on Jun 16, 2020 at 5:50 pm in injuries.

You may not enjoy having to stay in a hospital, but you probably feel safe when you are there. You expect the hospital to make you better, but sometimes, it can contribute to you becoming sicker. 

WPVI-TV explains that one hospital in Pennsylvania had an issue with premature babies suffering from infections it believes came from contaminated water in the facility. The bacteria thought to be the issue was Pseudomonas bacterium. This is not the only report of bacteria in the water systems of a hospital. 

The risk 

For most people, exposure to Pseudomonas bacterium will not cause any symptoms or have an adverse effect on their health. Doctors can treat it with antibiotics, but in premature infants, it can be fatal due to their already vulnerable state. Other people with health complications, such as those who might be in a hospital, are also at risk of complications from exposure to the bacteria. 

Hospitals may be able to stop the bacteria from harming other patients by changing some processes and procedures to minimize exposure, increasing chlorination and using additional water filtration methods. During an active period where there is a known bacterial issue with the water, hospitals may also move patients to other facilities. 

How contamination happens 

The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that it is usually the design of the water system. These systems typically have areas that allow water to remain stagnant and let bacteria grow. They also have very large systems and use water temperatures that encourage bacteria growth. These things are not unique to just hospitals, but bacteria infections have a better chance of gaining a foothold in a medical facility due to the vulnerable nature of patients.

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