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Electronic faucets unsafe for use in high-risk patient hospital settings
Date:3/31/2011

Dallas, TX (March 31, 2011) Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have determined that electronic faucets are more likely to become contaminated with unacceptably high levels of bacteria, including Legionella spp., compared with traditional manually operated faucets. The study will be presented on Saturday at the annual meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA).

Electronic-eye, non-touch faucets have been increasingly utilized in healthcare settings to lower water consumption and in an attempt to reduce recontamination of the hands of healthcare personnel. Emily Sydnor, MD, infectious disease fellow at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues, working in conjunction with the facilities and engineering departments at Johns Hopkins Hospital examined bacterial growth from faucets of two clinical wards within the hospital from December 2008 through January 2009. Their study included 20 manual faucets and 20 electronic faucets, each receiving water from the same source.

Cultures obtained from the faucets showed that 50 percent of water cultures from electronic faucets grew Legionella spp. compared to 15 percent of water cultures from manual faucets. Sydnor also found that 26 percent of water cultures from electronic faucets had significant growth on heterotrophic plate count (HPC) cultures, an estimate of the number of bacteria in the water, compared to 13 percent of water cultures from manual faucets. While the HPC rates were not statistically different, Sydnor believes the differences are worth noting.

Additionally, following a flush of the water system using chlorine dioxide the disparity between electronic and manual faucets persisted. After the cleaning, 29 percent of electronic faucet cultures were still contaminated with bacteria compared with seven percent of manual faucet cultures.

Sydnor speculated that the increased bacterial
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Contact: Tamara Moore
tmoore@gymr.com
202-745-5114
Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
Source:Eurekalert

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