Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are one of the most common patient complications, affecting 7% of patients in developed countries each year. The rise of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria has been identified as one of the biggest global health challenges, resulting in an estimated 23,000 deaths in the US annually. Environmental reservoirs for AMR bacteria such as bed rails, light switches and doorknobs have been identified in the past and addressed with infection prevention guidelines. However, water and water-related devices are often overlooked as potential sources of HAI outbreaks. This systematic review examines the role of water and water-related devices in the transmission of AMR bacteria responsible for HAIs, discussing common waterborne devices, pathogens, and surveillance strategies. AMR strains of previously described waterborne pathogens including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Mycobacterium spp., and Legionella spp. were commonly isolated. However, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae that are not typically associated with water were also isolated. Biofilms were identified as a hot spot for the dissemination of genes responsible for survival functions. A limitation identified was a lack of consistency between environmental screening scope, isolation methodology, and antimicrobial resistance characterization. Broad universal environmental surveillance guidelines must be developed and adopted to monitor AMR pathogens, allowing prediction of future threats before waterborne infection outbreaks occur.
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- Antibiotic resistance
- Antimicrobial resistance
- Healthcare associated infection
- Waterborne outbreak