The water being supplied to Intensive Care Units and wards at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research’s has harmful free-living amoebae, which may cause diseases or carry infections, a recent study has found.
According a study conducted by the department of medical parasitology of the institute, FLA water contamination was detected in bone marrow transplant (BMT) intensive care unit (ICU), transplant ICU, haemodialysis unit and high dependency unit at the institute’s Nehru Hospital.
The study was also published in the July-September issue of the Indian Journal of medical Microbiology.
A total of 100 samples (50 tap water samples and 50 swabs from tap mouths) were collected from 50 taps used for drinking (including seven reverse osmosis filter taps), hand washing and bathing purposes in bone marrow transplant ward (25 taps), high dependency unit (9 taps), transplant ICU (13 taps) and haemodialysis unit (3 taps) over a period of four months from March to June 2014. The samples were also collected from nursing counters, coffee rooms and pantry.
The study also found that four tap water samples and ten swab samples showed growth of parasites and cyst formation.
The study found four amoebae resembled acanthamoeba — a category commonly found in fresh water and other habitats.
According to experts, the bacteria carried by the amoebae are observed to be resistant to multiple antibiotics, leading further to spread of drug resistance among patients.
“FLA are opportunistic pathogens causing serious diseases like encephalitis (Inflammation of the brain), keratitis (inflammation of the cornea of the eye) and dermatologic manifestations,” the study found.
“The presence of these FLA in hospital water sources emphasises the urgent need for taking effective preventive measures. Its prevalence in wards having immune-compromised patients may pose a risk to this group of susceptible population as they may cause disease themselves or may carry pathogens inside them,” the study observed.