Public health education on the infectious disease risks of using tap water in medical devices is needed: Survey

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In a recent publication in the journal, Emerging infectious diseasesAnd Survey results on sterility and use of tap water in home medical devices such as CPAPs and nasal rinses show that many people believe it is safe to use in this capacity and that clear public health education is essential.

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First, as the article notes, tap water is not sterile and even after it has been treated to meet safe drinking standards, low levels of microorganisms remain in drinking water distribution systems, wells, and plumbing—some unsafe for aerosol inhalation and eye or nasal irrigation, for example. Pseudomonas aeruginosanon-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), legionella spp. , Acanthamoeba spp. And Naegleria Fowleri.

Researchers have studied whether people might not understand that tap water is not sterile, which leads to using it for specific purposes, such as rinsing the nose, inhaling, and rinsing contact lenses, which is not recommended.

What they found in the cross-sectional study included:

  1. 33% incorrectly answered that tap water does not contain bacteria or organisms.
  2. 62% said tap water can be used to rinse the sinuses.
  3. 50% said that tap water can be used to rinse contact lenses
  4. And 42% said it was okay to use it with respirators.

In addition, the researchers asked about the actual use of tap water in medical devices and obtained the following results:

  1. 24% reported filling humidifiers or continuous positive airway pressure machines with tap water
  2. 13% reported using tap water to rinse their nose
  3. And 9% reported using tap water to rinse their contact lenses.

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People should be informed that they can reduce their exposure to waterborne pathogens by using distilled water or water that has been suitably boiled and cooled and by regularly cleaning and disinfecting all water-using respirators.

Public health messages and guidance for health care providers that include risk factors for these device users and are consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are effective risk communication strategies that can influence population behavior change.

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