THE SCIENCE: RESEARCHERS SPEAK UP!
Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM)
(Full Article Here) Unlike tuberculosis (TB), which is spread from person to person, nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections are not considered contagious. There is no evidence that the infection can be transmitted from one person to another. How and why people become infected with NTM is not clear and the nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) causes are still under investigation. Currently there is a "hypothesis" or "theory" about acquiring NTM from a shower. In considering an apparent increase in the number of NTM lung disease cases seen over the past 25 years, it has been noted by researchers in the field, such as Dr. Pace in Boulder and Dr. Falkinham in Virginia, that NTMs may be commonly recovered from home water systems. We speculate that in the recent past people tend to take showers rather than bathe in a tub, and when showering in a closed stall the concentration of NTMs could be higher. Additionally, to save energy, water heaters have lower temperatures now, which could allow more NTM growth in the water. These are preliminary findings and further research is required to confirm these theories. Additionally, there are newer data to indicate that aspiration of water that we drink associated with reflux may be an additional way that mycobacteria gain access to the lungs and causes disease.
Showerheads may be spraying out bacteria - 1 in 5 tested harbored bugs tied to pulmonary disease, study finds.
(Full Article Here) Your showerhead may deliver more than a refreshing spray of water. New research suggests disease-causing bacteria hide out inside showerheads, hitching a ride to your face and body inside water droplets." About 20 percent of the showerhead swabs harbored significant levels of Mycobacterium avium, bacteria linked to pulmonary disease that most often infects people with compromised immune systems, said lead researcher Norman Pace of the University of Colorado, Boulder." Pace and colleagues found that M. avium and related pathogens were clumped together in slimy biofilms that coated the insides of the showerheads at more than 100 times the levels found in municipal waters that are the origins for the showers' water. Once the pathogen-laden water spurts from showerheads, the bugs can suspend in the air where showering individuals can easily inhale them into the deepest parts of the lungs, Pace said. For those with immune-compromised systems, Pace recommends changing out your showerhead regularly. Sufficiently cleaning showerheads may prove difficult as they are full of hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. While chlorine-bleach products may remove some bacteria, mycobacteria are resistant to chlorine. He added that microbes attach more easily to plastics, so an all-metal showerhead might be a good investment for the immune-compromised.
Is Your Shower Harmful To Your Health?
(Full Article Here) NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – You expect a hot shower to be potentially the cleanest place in your home, but it could be putting your health at risk. Your bathroom may be breeding dangerous bacteria, and doctors say this “shower sickness” known as nontuberculous mycobacteria – or “NTM” – starts when you turn on the water. “They are small bacteria , they cause disease in humans,” said Dr. Joe Falkinham, a professor of biological sciences at Virginia Tech. “Pulmonary disease.” You don’t just contract this illness from the shower – it can come from any water. “Humans are surrounded by these organisms,” Falkinham said. As household water became cleaner, most bacteria were killed off. But NTM bacteria are extremely resilient and now more and more people are becoming sick as the bacteria silently destroys lung tissue. “We’ve had 400 patients, 400 different patients with [NTM],” said pulmonologist Dr. David Kamelhar. However, most healthy people are not susceptible to the bacteria, Kamelhar said. Oddly, women are more at risk, as are those with a history of lung and bronchial problems. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems are also more at risk. Dr. Falkinham said simply taking off any shower head will reveal the source of some of the trouble.