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Research Shows Showerheads Harbor Bacteria

September 23, 2009

A recent study found that showerheads contained many types of bacteria commonly found in water and soil. The study, by researchers from the University of Colorado and published online in the September 14th edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at 45 showerheads across the United States.

The researchers found that the bacteria in the showerheads could affect people with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV, and people with pulmonary disease, like individuals with cystic fibrosis. The study also noted that more research is needed to better understand the potential health risk to people with pulmonary disease or weakened immune systems.

What are the risks to persons with CF?

It is commonly known that municipal water supplies are often contaminated with bacteria, including Mycobacterium avium, the bacteria found in shower heads in the recent study.

Currently, the Foundation does not recommend that people with CF avoid showering. At this point in time, there is not good data on the risk to people with CF associated with showering. Further study is needed.

In addition, because these bacteria live in the municipal water supplies, it is important that people with CF clean and disinfect their nebulizers properly to help prevent germs from growing on respiratory equipment.

The Foundation’s guidelines for cleaning nebulizers are:

  1. Clean your hands.
  2. Clean the nebulizer parts.
  3. Properly disinfect the nebulizer parts. 
  4. Rinse the nebulizer parts.
  5. Air-dry the nebulizer parts.

Talk to your CF care center to learn what you should know about germs and CF.

Additional Resources

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