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Infection control and the significance of sputum and other respiratory secretions from adult patients with cystic fibrosis

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Author(s): Moore John | Shaw Adrienne | Howard Jennifer | Dooley James | Elborn J Stuart

Journal: Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials
ISSN 1476-0711

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 8;
Date: 2004;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background There is limited data available on the environmental and public health impact of the microbiological hazards associated with sputa from patients with cystic fibrosis [CF]. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Burkholderia cenocepacia (formerly Burkholderia cepacia genomovar III), Staphylococcus aureus and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia are bacterial pathogens which are commonly found in the sputum of CF patients. A study was performed to ascertain the amount of sputum produced relating to microbial loading, as well as the diversity of bacteria present in a population of adult patients, with particular attention to pathogenic organisms. Methods Sputum from adult [>18 years old] CF patients [n = 20], chosen randomly from a population of 138 CF patients, was collected over a 24 h period on admission to the in-patient CF unit and enumerated quantitatively, as well as the sputa from 138 adult CF patients was examined qualitatively for the presence of infecting microflora. In addition, all different phenotypes from the sputum of each patient were identified phenotypically employing a combination of conventional identification methods [e.g. oxidase], as well as the API Identification schemes [API 20 NE, API 20 E]. Results This study demonstrated that patients with cystic fibrosis generate large numbers of bacteria in their sputum, approximating to 109 organisms per patient per day. Although these organisms are introduced to the environment from the respiratory tract mainly via sputum, relatively few represent true bacterial pathogens and therefore are not clinically important to the general public who are immunocompotent. The greatest risk of such environmental microbial loading is to other patients with CF and therefore CF patients should be made aware of the hazards of acquiring such organisms from the environment, as well as socializing with other CF patients with certain transmissible types, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cenocepacia. Conclusions Environmental health professionals should therefore be aware that CF patients are a greater risk to their peer grouping rather than to the general public or health care workers and that good personal hygiene practices with CF patients should be encouraged to minimize environmental contamination and potential acquistion.

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