Research Article

Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonisation in an intensive therapy unit: role of cross infection and host factors.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 286 doi: (Published 29 January 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;286:341
  1. M R Noone,
  2. T L Pitt,
  3. M Bedder,
  4. A M Hewlett,
  5. K B Rogers


    Despite the sparsity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the environment colonisation and infection with this organism was found at several sites by selective culture in 20 out of 46 patients in an intensive therapy unit. Three patients developed Ps aeruginosa pneumonia. Serial serogrouping and phage typing identified multiple strains in the unit and in the same patient. Rectal carriage occurred in 16 patients but rectal strains did not subsequently appear in tracheal aspirates; strains varied in their affinity for the upper respiratory tract. Colonisation was not directly related to length of stay and was detected in 16 of those colonised within 24 hours of admission. In intubated patients, who were colonised more frequently than those not intubated, upper respiratory tract colonisation correlated strongly with low initial arterial pH values. Personnel were probably responsible for cross infection among patients when the unit was busy. Strain differences and the susceptibility of patients also influenced colonisation and infection. Elimination of major reservoirs of Ps aeruginosa and compliance with procedures to control cross infection remain essential if patients in hospital are to escape colonisation by the organism.