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The Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Bacterium With a record number of UK pool operators experiencing Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreaks at their facilities, in this, the first of a two-part feature, Robbie Phillips, STA’s Lead Pool Plant Expert, explains more about this prolific bacterium


he essential suite of microbiological tests for pools, spas and interactive play features should include a test for the presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa). P. aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogenic bacterium responsible for both acute and chronic infections; beyond its natural resistance to compromised disinfection systems and its ability to form biofilm. Frighteningly Legionellae bacteria survive within biofilms. In recent years, pool operators across the UK have been experiencing P. aeruginosa outbreaks at their facilities, and in record numbers too. P. aeruginosa is a robust bacterium present in the environment. It is passed into the pool water from the human skin and gastrointestinal tract, and frequently through broken pool circulation pipes, or from dirt tracked onto the poolside. P. aeruginosa is often cultured from warm, moist environments, particularly when turbulent or aerated (balance tanks, spas, features, fountains, showers etc.) because the bacteria grows rapidly under these favourable conditions. Turbulent water is also conducive to the proliferation of Legionella pneumophilia. Because of these facts, many pool operators mistakenly believe that Pseudomonas is only a problem in warm water pools and spas. Unfortunately, Pseudomonas can grow in swimming pool water as well as spa water, on the pool edge and decks, on filter walls, in the filter sand bed, walls and floors of balance tanks, overflow channels, skimmers and inside PVC pipe, racing lanes, inflatables and water hoses etc. – wherever conditions are favourable. If bacteriological analysis of pool water is not performed on a regular basis, a pool operator will probably be unaware of the

The most common sign or symptom of a P. aeruginosa infection is a dermatological problem which looks like measles

contamination problem until bathers start complaining of infection. Those most likely to experience problems are bathers that spend lengthy amounts of time soaking in a spa or a pool, staff members including swimming teachers who wear wet bathing suits throughout their work shift, and patrons who swim regularly for extended periods of time can also be infected.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS The most common sign or symptom of a P. aeruginosa infection is a dermatological problem resulting in a red, bumpy, itchy rash, which looks like measles. On most bathers, the rash appears on the legs, trunk, inside of the arms, lower back, neck and shoulders, or anywhere the skin is broken, or where a swimsuit rubs against and irritates the skin. This can be easily contracted from

kiddies sliding on contaminated, poorly managed, inflatables. Pool associated folliculitis or skin rashes from Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be prevented by taking a soapy, hot water shower immediately after leaving the pool, and before cooling down and allowing the pores to close over the bacteria. Other symptoms associated with P. aeruginosa infections include: • Chest infections (Legionellae pneumophillia) • Earaches (otitis externa) • Breast inflammation (mastitis) • Feeling ill (malaise) • Inflammation of the eye membrane (conjunctivitis) • Coughing and sore throat caused by inflammation of the mucous membrane of the pharynx (pharyngitis) • Fever, lymph gland inflammation (lymphadenopathy) • Urinary tract infections causing impaired ability to pass urine (dysuria) • Flu–like symptoms • Nausea Immune compromised bathers can develop serious or fatal illness.

PROTECTION Although it is not uncommon to find Pseudomonas bacteria present in pool water, Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreaks rarely occur in properly treated and rigorously maintained water based facilities with good hygiene practices. Thus, further highlighting the importance of professional pool plant and spa training to ensure operators are qualified, and armed with the knowledge needed to manage a safe pool facility in accordance with recommended UK standards. STA 01922 645097

P. aeruginosa is often cultured from warm, moist environments, particularly when turbulent or aerated such as balance tanks and showers 45_SPN_Apr_17_STA.indd 45

In Part 2, in the June issue, we will look at recommended practices to prevent the uncontrolled growth of P. aeruginosa. For further information in the meantime on pool plant and spa training, please visit the STA website.

SPN April 2017 45 28/03/2017 00:00

SPN (Swimming Pool News) April 2017  

Informing the pool and spa industry since 1959. Covering the UK's wet leisure market, SPN (Swimming Pool News) is the UK's longest running a...

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