Purpose of review
Drinking water is considered one of the most overlooked and underestimated sources of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Recently, the prevention and control of opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens (OPPPs) in healthcare water systems has been receiving increasing attention in infection control guidelines. However, these fail to address colonization of pathogens that do not originate from source water. Subsequently, this review explores the role of water and premise plumbing biofilm in HAIs. The potential mechanisms of contamination and transmission of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) pathogens originating both from supply water and human microbiota are discussed.
OPPPs, such as Legionella pneumophila, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mycobacterium avium have been described as native to the plumbing environment. However, other pathogens, not found in the source water, have been found to proliferate in biofilms formed on outlets devices and cause HAI outbreaks.
Biofilms formed on outlet devices, such as tap faucets, showers and drains provide an ideal niche for the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance. Thus, comprehensive surveillance guidelines are required to understand the role that drinking water and water-related devices play in the transmission of AMR HAIs and to improve infection control guidelines.