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Viruses, Bacteria and Fungi in the Built Environment
2022, 29-44

Opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens (OPPPs) in the built-environment

Joseph O. Falkinham

Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, United States.


Opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens (OPPPs) are environmental, waterborne opportunistic pathogens that are present in drinking water. They include Legionella pneumophilaPseudomonas aeruginosaBurkholderia cepaciaMycobacterium avium complex (MAC), Mycobacterium abscessus complex (MAA), Stenotrophomonas maltophiliaAcinetobacter baumanniiSphingomonas paucimobilisSegniliparus spp., Methylobacterium spp., Cupriavidus spp., and the free-living amoebae (e.g., Acanthamoeba and Vermamoeba spp.). As OPPPs are in drinking water, humans continually come in contact with them and become infected. The OPPPs are adapted to premise plumbing; the plumbing in homes, apartments, and hospitals. The presence of OPPP in plumbing is due to a number of shared characteristics, including disinfectant resistance, growth at low organic content, adherence to pipe surfaces, biofilm formation, growth at low oxygen content, and high temperature- and desiccation-tolerance. The presence of OPPPs in drinking water systems challenge current methods for monitoring and ensuring safe drinking water.

Keywords: OPPPs, Biofilm formation, Household plumbing, Desiccation tolerance, Microorganisms, Built environment.

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