The bacterium that most commonly infects the lungs of people living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a microorganism that is suitable for living in warm, humid environments. The lungs of most CF people become colonized by P. aeruginosa before their 10th birthday. The body’s response is sometimes an inflammation that causes repeated exacerbations or episodes of intense respiratory problems. Although antibiotics can decrease the frequency and duration of these attacks, the bacterium is permanently established and can rarely be completely eliminated from the lungs. Treatments to decrease the effects usually include antibiotics, bronchodilators, anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy to help fight infection and eliminate them from the respiratory tract.
So… where is pseudomonas?
Usually, it is found in wetlands, in the soil, on plants and on certain animals. Sources of stagnant water such as swimming pools and water contained in flower vases, especially in hospitals, may contain the bacteria.
How can you avoid it?
- Wash your hands regularly, including before and after food preparation, wound treatment, use of the toilet, after an episode of coughing or sneezing in your hands and the touch of an animal. Good hygiene when washing hands is important to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Rub your hands with soap for 20 seconds before rinsing with lukewarm water.
- Use an alcohol-based disinfectant to clean your hands when you are visiting places that are more likely to come into contact with bacteria of any kind, including hospitals and especially when you encounter infected people.
- Keep your countertops and other surfaces clean and change stagnant water daily to avoid colonization of Pseudomonas. In addition, change your towels often or use paper towels to dry your hands. Dirty hand towels can spread pseudomonas and other bacteria, especially if someone who has used them is sick.
- Avoid spas and indoor pools.
- Wash all fruits, vegetables and salads before eating them.
- Make sure that your children’s toys are washed as needed. Toys for the bath and garden should be rinsed and dried after each use. Always wash your hands after gardening.
- Avoid contact with flower vases, greenhouses and indoor garden centers where the air can be hot and humid.
- Ensure that plastic bottles and drinking containers are thoroughly cleaned before each use.