People who have been in the hospital for a week or longer are at greater risk of catching a pseudomonas infection.
Pseudomonas infections can be complicated, even life-threatening and, in the past year, researchers have found drug-resistant strains of the bacteria in some parts of the world.
Eric Lutz, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health in the University of Arizona's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, said the bacteria that causes the infection can live anywhere, but is most likely to be found in hospital settings. It is also at its most dangerous when it infects someone who is immunocompromised.
Lutz said the primary way the bacteria makes its way into someone's body, is through the lungs. Consequently, people with cystic fibrosis are the most susceptible to a pseudomonas infection. Burn patients, too, are more likely to get sick from the bacteria. And once infected, the bacteria can be difficult to eliminate, Lutz said.
Lutz studied how long pseudomonas infections can persist on various surfaces, such as stainless steel, glass and laminate, in a typical hospital setting. The bacteria, on average, survived for more than five hours. Laminate surfaces had the lowest survivability, "meaning that pseudomonas only lasted about three-and-a-half to four hours on those surfaces," Lutz said. "Whereas on glass and stainless steel, the pseudomonas was able to last upwards of seven hours."
Lutz said hospitals sanitize surfaces, require people to wash hands, and they isolate people with infection, but they currently do not monitor surfaces or the air to determine if pathogens are present.