Beautiful, soothing……and possibly deadly

Oversight of construction and renovation work is one of my least favorite infection prevention duties. This is especially true when construction plans include beautiful water features. Nothing makes me feel more like a crusty old grouch than having to explain why the perfectly integrated and soothing water feature planned for the oncology unit is actually a fountain of doom.

So I took special note of this report from David Henderson’s group at NIH. This group linked a cluster of nosocomial legionellosis to a decorative hospital water fountain, using pulsed field gel electrophoresis to match isolates from patients with those from the fountain (which was located in the radiation oncology suite). Notably, the fountain was equipped with both a filter and an ozone generator. I heartily agree with the authors that “decorative fountains and water features present unacceptable risk in hospitals serving immunocompromised patients.”


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